Tanker lorries drawing contaminated water

Few takers: Water vending hydrants of the Kerala Water Authority in Aluva lying idle as only a few tankers reach the facility to collect water.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Operation Pure Water, a drive to provide clean drinking water to all, has turned out to be a non-starter as tanker lorry operators continue to supply drinking water drawn from unidentified and untested wells.

This happens at a time when the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) has set up 45 hydrants across the district. And, most of them are lying idle, according to KWA officials.

Though the district administration had recently convened a meeting on the capacity of the KWA to provide the required amount of water to tanker lorries, no concrete decision was taken, leaving tanker operators free to draw water from contaminated wells.

For the record, the Assembly Committee on Petitions chaired by K.B. Ganesh Kumar, MLA, had directed the district administration to ensure that drinking water should be sourced only from KWA vending points.

However, in spite of the facilities available at KWA treatment plants at Aluva, Maradu, Chowara, and Perumannoor, among others, the offtake from them is only 5% of the demand, according to District Tanker Lorry Owners’ Welfare Association.

Meanwhile, KWA officials told The Hindu that tanker operators had never given a clear-cut account of the quantity of water they supplied on a given day. At the same time, the KWA is ready to meet the demand through its hydrants, they said.

For instance, the offtake of water from the Aluva plant was only around 23 million litres for the entire month of January. Except for five days in the middle of the month, when the average collection was 25 lakh litres with around 300 tankers reaching the facility, there was a fall in the offtake during the rest of the month. An average of 25 tankers arrived at the plant on most other days. The earnings of the KWA during the month from vending amounted to ₹13.73 lakh.

Incidentally, the district administration too had allowed tankers to use private wells, holding that the KWA was not capable of providing sufficient quantity of water. Even after the Pollution Control Board (PCB) had said that most wells were found contaminated with e.coli and coliform bacteria above the permissible levels, water drawn from them is still being supplied to users.

The capacity of water tankers varies from 6,000 litres to 42,000 litres. Considering that the average offtake is 25,000 litres per load, a minimum of three tankers can be filled from one hydrant in an hour as it takes only 15 minutes to fill a large tanker, said KWA officials.

Since the facilities are open round-the-clock, up to 72 vehicles can be filled from one hydrant alone.

With 10 hydrants, a total of 18 million litres of water can be provided in a day. Going by the “incongruent” demand from tanker operators, they would require 15 million litres of water a day, said KWA officials.

According to KWA officials, in spite of its full preparedness to vend water, few tankers reach the Aluva plant of the authority.

There are, however, more takers from the Maradu plant. On an average, around 120 tankers reach the facility a day. However, only one-third of its capacity is being utilised, according to KWA officials.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 8:00:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/tanker-lorries-drawing-contaminated-water/article30786956.ece

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