Acute water scarcity is not a new challenge to Ward 3 of Thenmala grama panchayat, but this summer the residents are finding it extremely difficult to cope with. While water connections are a distant dream for many, several families were dependent on water pumped from streams inside the forest. However, the pump house operations have come to a standstill due to frequent animal attacks and the people are currently reeling under acute water shortage. “Many houses are located around 3 km above the road level. The residents have to make make strenuous trips to fetch water from the river. We used to get a limited supply from the waterbodies inside the forest, but after the pump operator was hospitalised following an elephant attack, that too has stopped. More than 150 families in the ward have no water connection or any other option to get potable water,” said G. Nagarajan, ward member.
According to residents, none of the drinking water projects promised by authorities have taken off. Even the efforts to dig a borewell in the area had to be stopped due to political interests, they allege. “Though Kerala Water Authority and Jal Jeevan Mission have sanctioned projects, none were implemented and now the financial year has come to a close. Majority of us belong to underprivileged sections and we are having a very hard time,” says a resident. To make matters worse, tankers cannot reach many parts of the ward with narrow dirt roads. “They supply water in small pick-up vans and that can hardly meet our daily needs. This year the summer is very harsh and our condition has become more pathetic,” he adds.
Meanwhile, the authorities say the drinking water projects will be implemented soon and talks are on to acquire land for the project. “We couldn’t move forward with the project due to some technical issues and we have taken steps to solve that. A couple of drinking water projects will be implemented in the ward this financial year itself,” said an official.