For three months now, water supply to the Kannagi Nagar and Ezhil Nagar tenements has been erratic and of poor quality, residents have complained.
Water stored in underground sumps and supplied through hand pumps is the only water source for the nearly 23,700 tenements in Kannagi Nagar and about 8,000 tenements in Ezhil Nagar.
N. Mallika, a resident of Kannagi Nagar, said much of the water collected often has to be wasted as it was either discoloured or had a foul smell. “Each of the 18 tenements in my block get to collect only five pots of water to be used for three days. Many of us have started to buy packaged water for drinking or from private lorries for ₹12 per pot. But we cannot afford such weekly expenditure,” she said.
Residents said while Kannagi Nagar was supplied with water once in three days, Ezhil Nagar received water only once in six or seven days.
T.C. Karuna, a resident of Kannagi Nagar and former councillor, said people entirely depended on water provided by Chennai Metrowater. However, water supply often gets disrupted and various reasons are cited, including maintenance of infrastructure in the tenements, for the delay in supply. “We often get discoloured water initially for an hour through hand pumps and this gets wasted,” he added.
Unlike in other areas, borewells cannot be sunk as the groundwater table has turned saline, said residents. They also said that leaks in the old pipelines must be attended to, and water must be directly supplied through a pipeline to Ezhil Nagar instead of storing and pumping water from Kannagi Nagar.
Officials of Metrowater said nearly five million litres of water are supplied to both the areas on alternate days from the Nemmeli desalination plant. While distribution in Kannagi Nagar is done by Metrowater, the infrastructure and distribution in Ezhil Nagar is maintained by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB).
“We monitor the distribution system and flush the pipeline often to address the complaints. We will be able to take up infrastructure projects once the TNSCB chalks out proposals,” an official said.