Residents of the city seem to have no option but shelling out increasing sums to meet their water needs. Expenditure on water has begun to significantly eat into their monthly budgets. And, those who supply packaged water and operate private water tankers are making the most of the crisis.
“One pot of water used to cost Rs. 2 four years ago. It was Rs. 5 a month ago and has increased to Rs.6,” said T. Joseph of Kodungaiyur. “We have no choice but to pay even if a pot costs Rs.10,” he added. Residents everywhere noted that the cost had drastically increased over the past two months as the water crisis worsened.
Several private water tankers have hiked the price by at least Rs. 500. A. Annadurai of Jeevan Bhima Nagar of Mogappair said. “Until two months ago, we used to buy up to 40 tankers for our complex with 944 flats. Now, the consumption has increased to 120 tankers a month due to decline in piped water supply. We cannot use the groundwater as it is saline,” he said.
From spending Rs. 30,000 a month, apartment residents are now shelling out over Rs. one lakh for water, he added.
But paying more does not ensure quick delivery of water. Bhuvana Vijay, a resident of Guindy, said lorry operators took a minimum of three days to deliver the water. “I pay Rs.1,500 - Rs.1,600 for a 12 kl capacity tanker where I had to spend only Rs. 1,000 two months ago. However, I still end up waiting anxiously till the water comes,” she said.
The situation is also grave in added areas that are yet to be supplied with piped water. N. Kamala, a resident of Korattur, said the groundwater table has dipped alarmingly in her area. “I pay between Rs. 6 and Rs. 9 for a pot of water. The roads in my area have been dug up and tankers come only once a week,” she said.
Private water tanker operators said they had to increase charges as they operated limited trips due to lack of resources. S. Murugan, treasurer of Chennai Private Water Tanker Owners Association said earlier, tankers sourced water from Poonamallee and Ambattur. “Now, I travel double the distance to Thirumazhisai or Red Hills and spend nearly five hours to draw water from borewells,” he said.