Residents of the city struggling to meet their water needs may get a measure of relief as private water tanker owners have decided to postpone their indefinite strike.
They had earlier threatened to go on strike from May 27 after a crackdown on tankers tapping groundwater in the city’s outskirts.
After talks with officials of the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department on Friday, the Tamil Nadu Private Water Tanker Lorry Owners’ Association has decided to postpone the strike. S. Murugan, secretary of the association, said the officials had assured them that they would arrange for licenses to be provided to borewell owners.
“We agreed to operate trips as otherwise it would adversely affect people who are already suffering from the water crisis. We are now operating a limited number of trips as there is not enough source and we are prevented from extracting groundwater. Only 40% of trips are being operated now. But we will not have a choice but to strike if we are prevented from sourcing groundwater,” he said.
Filling the gap
There are nearly 4,500 private tankers that fill the gap in water supply in the city. However, the number of trips have been reduced by about half, to 12,000 per day, for want of sources. For instance, tanker operators in the Poonamallee belt travel for an additional 25 km to source groundwater — even up to Tiruvallur.
Resistance from residents of places such as Keerapakkam, in Kancheepuram district, against extraction of groundwater and crackdown by tahsildars and Revenue Department officials had led to a decrease in supply by private tankers.
With the Chennai Metrowater running out of sources and reducing water supply, people, particularly along the IT corridor, have become are heavily dependent on upon the private water tankers for their daily requirements.
Members of the Olympia Opaline Flat Owners’ Association, Navalur, have represented to the Tiruporur Tahsildar to arrange for water supply of 560 kl daily or allow water tankers supply.
Sakthi Kumar, secretary of the association, said: “We are planning to hold aon protest on Saturday seeking a solution to the water crisis. There are nearly 4,500 people living in the gated community. We totally depend on water supplied by private tankers and the strike will worsen the situation.”