TAMBARAM: With the demand for water in Chennai and its suburbs increasing, the movement of private tankers transporting this precious resource from farm-wells to different areas for commercial purposes has grown.
Residents of Narayanapuram in Pallikaranai are aware of the problems caused by the excessive extraction of water from farm-wells more than anyone else. Two dozen lorry-loads of water move out of the locality each day from the only remaining farm-well.
Residents of IIT Colony have tried to prevent what they describe as a “ruthless act” by operators to “pilfer” water, in clear violation of government regulations.
A farm-well which is about 50 feet deep is located in a corner behind IIT Colony. Private operators have been drawing water from it and supplying to commercial establishments for more than two years. This had resulted in a drastic dip in the groundwater level. Domestic wells of independent houses and borewells sunk in apartment complexes in IIT Colony have been hit.
Residents said they had sent petitions to the Pallikaranai Town Panchayat and officials of the Revenue Department of Tambaram taluk and the Kancheepuram district administration, seeking an end to the illegal practice, but without success.
Residents of IIT Colony Third Cross Street said domestic wells and borewells in the immediate vicinity of the farm were the most affected.
A few years ago, the water level in the domestic wells in independent houses used to be high, but over the past two summers they had dipped to alarmingly low levels.
They said typically a tanker lorry is parked next to the farm-well as its crew operates a diesel-engine motor to draw water. The capacity of the tankers range between 8,000 and 12,000 litres. It takes 30 minutes or more for each filling.
One of the crew-members of a lorry said there was nothing wrong in drawing water as perennial springs ensured non-stop flow of water into the well. Water to a depth of 8 feet was always available in the well, he said.
However, residents were not convinced. They said that mining water from farm-wells was a clear violation of the Chennai Metropolitan Area Ground Water (Regulation) Act, 1987.
Farm-wells dot Pallikaranai, Medavakkam, Mudichur, West Tambaram and Perungalathur.
While problems are not felt in sparsely populated areas, drawing of water from wells in residential localities affects people hugely.
An official of the Pallikaranai Town Panchayat said it was not within their powers to act against private operators; only the Revenue Department can initiate action. While revenue officials said they had not received any specific complaint, Narayanapuram residents insist they had sent more than one representation to the department.
The residents have sought the immediate intervention of the Kancheepuram district administration and the State government to prevent further drop in the groundwater table.