Yelagiri hills reel under severe water scarcity, soaring temperature

The region has been rain deficient since 2021; the laying of water pipeline from Jolarpet town under Cauvery Combined Drinking Water Supply Scheme will be the permanent solution to the issues of the residents, say officials

Published - April 24, 2024 11:28 pm IST - TIRUPATTUR

Deepening of open wells is also being done to source water for consumption. 

Deepening of open wells is also being done to source water for consumption. 

Yelagiri Hills in Tirupattur, known for its wooded forests, streams, and gardens , is reeling under water scarcity and is struggling to meet the consumption of its residents. The temperature has been soaring and this has dried up all the government dug borewells and also the open wells in the hills.

A cluster of 14 tribal hamlets in the hills constitute Yelagiri village panchayat, which comprises 1,598 households, 40 hotels and resorts, and 15 educational institutions. Most families are tribal farmers and labourers. Some of them also depend on honey collection.

As the hills are of rugged terrain, residents mostly depend on water supplied by the panchayat for consumption and other domestic use as they cannot afford to dig borewells and open wells individually due to the high cost involved. “In the hills, families are using water from a few private borewells that still hold water in them as many water bodies like lakes and ponds in the hills have become dry,” said S. Mariammal, a resident.

At present, the panchayat maintains open wells and borewells - 18 each to provide water for household consumption alone. Each borewell is around 600 ft - 700 ft deep, whereas open wells are 25 ft deep. The hills require at least one lakh litres of water for household consumption alone every day. Commercial establishments like hotels, resorts, and educational institutions except government ones, have to meet water needs on their own.

Panchayat officials said that the lack of rain since 2021 has turned small water bodies like small streams, ponds, and lakes completely dry. The recharge of groundwater in the hills has become impossible. New borewells have only hit the hard rock.

Currently, 20 tractors that were attached with 5,000 litres capacity tanks each have been roped in to supply water from the neighbouring tribal villages, around 3 kms away, to residents in the hills. “For every trip by a tractor tanker, we pay ₹600 - ₹800 depending on the distance covered to carry water. We were able to manage only around 50,000 litres of water daily for consumption as against the requirement of one lakh litres,” said R. Girivelan, president, Yelagiri Hills village panchayat.

For households, the panchayat supplies water on alternative days through its 24 over head tanks (OHTs). In the coming weeks, demand for water would increase as summer peaks in the hills.

Panchayat officials said that the proposed laying of water pipeline from Jolarpet town, around 20 kms from the hills, under Cauvery Combined Drinking Water Supply Scheme (CWSS) will be the permanent solution to water-related issues in the hills.

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