A tale of depleting water table

G. S. Babu, Resident   | Photo Credit: ma16babu

A brand new reverse osmosis water treatment plant in Tahsildar Nagar’s Maruthupandiar Street lies locked up and reeks of disuse.

The plant, costing ₹9.98 lakh, was inaugurated by MLA V. V. Rajan Chellappa on April 18. It was installed on the main road so that all residents of Tahsildar Nagar could get easy access to drinking water. The move backfired because the area, despite being located close to Vandiyur tank, has only a trickle of groundwater left, say officials of Madurai Corporation. “In order to make the water treatment plant work, we need to install two new borewells, thus impacting the groundwater level of houses close to the plant,” says an official.

Tahsildar Nagar and its neighbouring localities — Yagappa Nagar and Anbu Nagar — are at the heart of a burning water crisis in Madurai. The area, which became part of the Corporation in 2011, now receives water from the Cauvery Integrated Water Supply Scheme. A total of 50 borewells have been sunk in Vandiyur tank to supply water through pipelines to three other areas located close to Tahsildar Nagar. However, the scorching summer has rendered the borewells useless as there is no groundwater.

An official from PWD says that groundwater level has slipped between 122 and 130 feet in 2018 because of lack of percolation. In summer, borewells at a depth of 500 feet will be able to fetch a decent quantity of water daily, he adds. Without proper pipeline connection in most households, these areas face major problems.

N. S. Subbiah, Additional Director of Groundwater section in PWD, says that deeper borewells burn holes in the pockets of the public. Power consumption will become high and updated versions of motors need to be installed. In about four or five years, the area will not have any water if the borewells are sunk deeper, he cautions.

G. S. Babu, one of the residents, says that rent in these areas is really cheap because of lack of water. “I pay about ₹5,000 for a comfortable two-bedroom house. However, I have no choice but to regularly pay ₹250 for my 1,000-litre water tank every few days. The exorbitant cost rises to ₹1,500 each month, thus becoming a major maintenance issue,” he says.

R. Banusri, another resident, agrees. She says that the middle class and lower middle class people, who form the majority of households here, are affected the most. “We have to depend on private tankers for our water needs because Corporation lorries refuse to visit our cramped streets. They claim that the single-lane roads do not provide enough space for their entry,” she says. She adds that councillors, MLAs and politicians have been appraised about the issue but they refuse to take effective and sustainable measures that can bring about a change. “Why can’t a water supply and groundwater rejuvenation project be implemented in our area? We can lead by example,” she suggests.

Mr. Subbiah adds that the only solution can be the installation of rainwater harvesting systems throughout the area. “Tahsildar Nagar is safe during monsoon because there is high percolation in the Vandiyur lake. Additional rainwater harvesting systems will provide good drinking water as well as water for other use. Adequate number of ‘rain days’ will ensure that there is enough water for six months. Excess water during monsoon can be redirected to a pit and can be used to recharge ground water,” he suggests.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 6:55:54 AM |

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