Residents find creative methods to tap scarce water

CHENNAI, JUNE 16. Scarcity, indeed, seems to be the mother of innovation. In Chennai, the water-starved citizens, are coming up with highly creative methods to get water.

Starting with using every available vessel to store and waiting at vantage points to `pounce on any passing tanker lorry'', citizens find many methods to meet the daily demand.

However, the best method seems to be working at the valves on metrowater pipelines that convey large amounts from water across the city. At Chinmaya Nagar, for example, a pressure valve was found leaking. A creative resident, the other day wrapped the valve-top with a plastic bag to decant the leaking water into pots.

The Red Hills to Kilpauk water works water conduit pipe is another stretch, where any leak is a bonanza for alert residents of nearby colonies. In Anna Nagar, the exposed pipelines provide bonus for the slum dwellers. On many days, passers-by can notice children and grown ups washing clothes and even bathing near leaking pipes and valves.

Last week, when the Minister-in-charge of Metrowater, Mr. C. Durairaj, was inspecting the utility's functioning, the convoy stopped on seeing a similar scene on Erukkanchery High Road, where residents were washing clothes from a leaking valve. On seeing them, the locals fled the scene. Near the Kilpauk water works, residents from poorer households have come up with another innovation. Late at night, they open the valves of tankers and drain the left-over or dead-storage from the tankers which return and use it on the spot for washing and bathing.

Of course, for the middle class and upper class, even such options are not available. Apartment owners and individual households throughout the city make do with street supply from Metrowater tankers or buy water from the costlier private suppliers. Visitors and guests are politely turned away, lest the apartment-owner is targeted by occupants of other flats.