Chennai may go thirsty as tankers stay off the road

Private operators protest curbs on groundwater extraction

October 16, 2018 12:49 am | Updated 07:41 am IST - CHENNAI

Chennai: 15-10-2018, For City: Private Drinking Water Lorrys Strike at Pallikaranai. Photo: M. Karunakaran.

Chennai: 15-10-2018, For City: Private Drinking Water Lorrys Strike at Pallikaranai. Photo: M. Karunakaran.

The threat of a drought-like situation looms over Chennai with private water tankers in and around the city going off the road on Monday, protesting against the restrictions on groundwater extraction as well as closure of borewells in Poonamallee.

Nearly 4,136 private tankers that suspended trips were parked along roads such as Poonamallee High Road and Rajiv Gandhi Salai as the Tamil Nadu Private Water Tanker Operators Association began its indefinite strike seeking permission to draw groundwater.

HC directive

The issue flared up last week after revenue officials in the city’s periphery closed down borewells and prohibited private tankers from drawing groundwater, citing a recent Madras High Court directive. This comes in the wake of the court’s directive that upheld the validity of a government order issued in 2014.

Categorising blocks for groundwater management, the order prohibited extraction from over-exploited and critical blocks.

The Madras High Court, while upholding the validity of a government order issued in 2014, categorised blocks for groundwater management, prohibiting its extraction from over-exploited and critical blocks.

The court had directed State government officials to lodge police complaints and treat indiscriminate extraction of groundwater as a non-bailable offence of theft in such blocks.

The first day of the indefinite strike signalled the beginning of a severe water supply crisis as several commercial establishments and large apartment complexes will soon use up their stored water.

N. Nijalingam, president of Tamil Nadu Private Water Tankers Operators Association, said tankers from other regions such as Coimbatore, Tirupur and Nilgiris would join the strike.

“We want the State government to provide permission to draw water to bridge the gap in municipal supply. We also want compensation for the damage to borewells,” he said.

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