Rain shifts focus from Pilloor scheme

COIMBATORE, JUNE 1. The Mayor, T. Malaravan's reply in the Council yesterday on queries over the drinking water situation may have been reassuring to the entire city. But, the question that remains unanswered is can the city rest content with the Siruvani scheme alone.

A false sense of euphoria over the rain this time seems to be running through the civic body. That explains the contentment over the rise in Siruvani level and the lack of an aggressive pursuit of the second phase of the Pilloor scheme, to supply 125 million litres a day of drinking water for the city alone.

He said the rain since April-end had made the situation comfortable for the civic body and helped in sustaining the minimum required quantum of supply to all the Siruvani-served areas.

Unprecedented heavy rain at this time of the year and the prediction of a normal South West Monsoon seem to have shifted focus from the need for another water scheme.

Surprisingly, the Opposition also rejected a proposal in the Council yesterday for construction of eight overhead tanks under the proposed Rs. 110-crore second Pilloor scheme.

The Councillors argued that there was not enough water to fill up a number of existing tanks. So, why go in for more, they asked. The resolution was deferred.

However, it is still not clear as to why the Councillors could not be convinced that the planned tanks had to be constructed in anticipation of Central Water Commission approval for the new scheme sometime in the near future.

With neither the civic body making any clear reference to the scheme's position nor the elected representatives demanding a close follow-up, the entire situation now gives an impression that rain and the obsession for Siruvani water seems to have disrupted the process of thinking ahead.

Civic officials confirmed before the elections that the proposal for the second scheme was pending with the commission for its approval. Once got, the process of implementation could begin.

Four years ago, the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board drew up this scheme for the city, along with two others for the suburbs. None of them has taken off. At least the one for the city has reached the stage of approval.

The Corporation itself is under pressure for more drinking water connections but with limited resources on hand.

The demand has risen in the suburbs owing to hectic housing activity.

In areas such as Kavundampalayam, Vadavalli, Veerakeralam and a host of other areas in the suburbs, the local body had put a freeze on water connections this year.

In fact, in Vadavalli, more than 200 connections are said to have been waitlisted for nearly a year. The case of Kavundampalayam is said to be similar.

When whatever gain made from the rain by the Siruvani scheme is to be shared by the Corporation and the local bodies in the suburbs, inadequate or erratic supply is bound to happen, as the present experience reveals.

To a large extent, the second Pilloor scheme is seen as a solution to the entire problem. By catering to the entire requirement of the city, it is expected to help in reserving the Siruvani water for the suburbs.

However, a major impediment to this is the sentiments attached by those in the city to the Siruvani water.

Sources among the water managers had said that people in some areas resisted supply from the Pilloor dam.

Only acute scarcity could change the mindset to some extent. It would have to go totally to enable the two existing schemes and the new one to benefit all areas.