The groundwater level has increased from 18.10 metres below ground level (pre-monsoon) to 17.5 metres below ground level (post-monsoon), managing director of Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board C.N. Maheswaran has said.
Addressing the media, he said the groundwater level was finally improving two years after a drought ravaged Tamil Nadu. He acknowledged that the water crisis facing many parts of the State remained a pertinent issue.
“There could be issues pertaining to poor supply to the tail-end [areas], broken pipelines, bursts due to road-widening activities and electricity-related issues. To combat the shortage caused by these problems, the TWAD Board has, for the first time, organised water distribution through tankers. A total of Rs. 20 crore has been allocated for supply across the State,” he said.
Mr. Maheswaran said that a total of 2,146 million litres per day (MLD) was being supplied through 556 schemes in the State. “Since there is a shortage, we have appointed a total of 228 officers at the town panchayat and village panchayat levels to oversee the supply and quality of water in 228 divisions,” he said.
He added that the combined drinking water supply schemes (CWSS), particularly in areas close to riverbed sources like Melur, Hogenakkal and Ramnad, were functioning well because of their proximity to the Cauvery, Tamirabarani and Vaigai. When reporters raised queries about the extensive leakage from pipelines designated for CWSS, he said that the schemes, which were normally designed to serve for 30 years, tended to become dysfunctional towards the end. “We will take a look at it,” he said.
When asked if the TWAD Board was prepared to face such acute water shortage in the coming years, he said it usually did not take natural calamities into account while planning infrastructure.
“We design schemes based on population count only,” he added.
Mr. Maheswaran said the Board had marked 17 districts as having had deficit rainfall, ranging from -59% to 19%, due to the failure of the northeast monsoon in 2018. In a letter regarding the deficit rainfall during the northeast monsoon by the Tamil Nadu Disaster Risk Reduction Agency, a few blocks in seven other districts were said to have been affected by hydrological drought. “The TWAD Board urges residents, offices, farmers and non-governmental organisations to start harvesting rainwater as it is the only way to deal with this brewing crisis,” he said.
He added that no new schemes were on the anvil, and that the Board was determined to deepen existing borewells and fix pipelines to ensure consistent supply.