Tanker owners seek State help to identify new sources

Demand fuel subsidy to help bring down cost of water supplied

Published - June 20, 2019 01:22 am IST - CHENNAI

Private water tanker owners in the city are planning to approach the State government, seeking support to source water without hassle to meet the growing demand. The number of trips operated by private tankers has dropped by nearly half in the last few weeks.

Finding a tanker-load of water is a major task for residents across the city. There is also a looming threat of a further dip in supply by private tankers.

Expenditure on water has already eaten into the budgets of many households, as residents shell out a minimum of ₹3,000-3,500 for a 12-kl tanker-load. The search for water has increasingly become complicated this month, as private tanker owners note that they are unable to source sufficient volume of water.

Dropping yield

Members of the Tamil Nadu Water Lorry Owners’ Association said they were unable to operate trips owing to depleting groundwater levels and increasing resistance from residents in the neighbouring districts. There are nearly 4,500 private tankers plying in and around the city. Each lorry now operates only two or three trips daily, despite heavy demand, particularly along the IT corridor.

S. Murugan, secretary of the association, said: “We travel nearly 60 km to source and supply water daily and the wait for a tanker-load extends to six to seven hours near the agricultural well or borewell. The yield has droppped in the existing sources such as Poonamallee. Even if we find a good source of water, we are unable to tap it because of stiff resistance from residents in places, including in Kokkumedu near Ponneri.”

Lorries now travel beyond Thirumazhisai, Singaperumalkoil, Nemam and Meppur in Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts to fetch water. “We don’t have a choice but to increase the cost from ₹1,600, as we have to cover the jump in fuel and operation costs. We take action on complaints about exorbitant charges made by our members,” he said.

The association has sought the State government’s intervention to identify potential sources and provide them licences to draw water. They also want fuel subsidy to help them bring down the cost that is passed on to consumers.

Meanwhile, sand lorry owners are planning to switch to water supply, owing to demand from the construction industry that is reeling under the crisis. S. Yuvaraj of the Tamil Nadu State Sand Lorry Owners’ Federation said some sand lorry owners were preparing to mount smaller capacity tanks on their vehicles and start supplying water. There is a dip in demand for sand due to water shortage. “We may even go up to Urapakkam or Gummidipoondi to fetch water,” he said.

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