TAMIL NADU

Protests put Kancheepuram administration in a fix

CHENNAI, JULY 24. As public dissatisfaction over indiscriminate groundwater extraction from villages near Chennai is on the rise, the Kancheepuram district administration seems to be egging on the private water tankers to source water from villages where there are no public protests and avoid those where the protests are more vocal.

Although extraction of water from these villages and transportation through private tanker lorries is illegal, as per provisions of the Chennai Metropolitan Area Groundwater Regulation Act, 1987, the current water scenario in Chennai has put the Kancheepuram district administration in a quandary. Supply of water to Chennai is absolutely necessary, said an official.

Extraction may continue

Tanker owners are pushing for a directive to allow them to extract water from areas close to Chennai for supply to the city, he added. He predicted that the scale of operations of the private water tankers was likely to continue for at least another two months till the monsoon sets in over Chennai.

Over the past few days, villagers at Vengaivasal, Sembakkam, Sithalapakkam, Koilancherry, Selaiyur, Mambakkam and the adjoining areas have seized about 25 private lorries and handed them over to the police. In the face of public pressure, revenue officials too seized several tankers on charges of drawing water from agricultural wells without permission of the district administration. So far, 73 lorries have been rounded up, officials said. These lorries would be levied a fine of Rs. 2,000 each.

Panchayat directive

The revenue officials of Kancheepuram district have, however, written to the panchayats and Village Administrative Officers authorising them to seize private tanker lorries extracting water from agricultural wells and hand them over to the police. The step was taken to bring down the largescale drawal of groundwater in the Tambaram taluk, the officials added.

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