Water supply situation set to improve with commissioning of Piravom project

Ernakulam is better placed than many of its neighbouring districts when it comes to availability of drinking water. Gone are the days when the city witnessed intense agitations for water with the islanders of Vypeen laying siege to the camp office of the District Collector. The images of long queues of housewives waiting with pots for collecting water from tanker lorries on the islands are vanishing though some parts of the district still face water shortage.

The district mostly depends on the Periyar river for quenching its thirst. Water from the treatment plant at Aluva, with an installed capacity of 225 million litres per day (mld), is mostly supplied in the Kochi Corporation area. The demand of consumers in Kalamassery, Maradu, Eloor and Aluva also is met from the plant.

When demand peaks, production is increased up to 25 per cent and 289 mld is supplied from the plant. Yet, it is insufficient to meet the demand of the city, says an official of the plant.

State of suburbs

Medium and small production units at Chovvara, Muvattupuzha, Choondy and Kothamangalam take care of the water needs of the suburbs of the city.

According to Ashok Kumar Singh, Managing Director, Kerala Water Authority, the drinking water supply situation in the district is all set for a big change with the commissioning of the Piravom water supply scheme implemented under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. The project will add another 100 mld to the city water supply lines and the excess water could be used to meet the demands of customers in areas of water shortage.

The drinking water supply scenario will witness a major change in three months, he says.

The city administrators are also pinning their hopes on the Mission project to address the water shortage, especially in West Kochi. Water scarcity is still reported from the Mattancherry, Palluruthy, Mundanveli and Moolamkuzhy areas, says T.K. Ashraf, chairman of the health standing committee of the Kochi Corporation.

Tanker lorries

Water is supplied in tanker lorries to such areas and the local body spends around Rs.2 crore annually for providing water to these areas, he says. In Vypeen, though the local self-government authorities had tried to address the water shortage by providing water in tanker lorries, most of the affected residents rejected the offer last year and demanded piped water supply, says Soujath Abdul Jabbar, president of the Vypeen Grama Panchayat.

There may be a 10 per cent improvement in the water supply to the coastal panchayat though the long queues of women waiting for tanker lorries to arrive have vanished.

Piped water is not reaching all parts of the panchayat as pressure is lost in the supply line. Steps for improving the water pressure need to be introduced immediately, says Ms. Jabbar.

Residents of some parts of Mulavukad, Vallarpadam and Panampukad too are facing water scarcity though there has been a general improvement in the supply to the island conglomerates, says A.K. Dinakaran, president of the Mulavukad grama panchayat.

The Kerala Water Authority is now focusing on plugging of leaks in the supply lines even while going ahead with its proposal for setting up a 120-mld scheme at Kalamassery, says Mr. Singh.