Substantial rise in level of reservoirs

CHENNAI, DEC. 30. After a gap of three years, the combined storage of Chennai reservoirs on New Year Day will be 3,300 mcft this time, i.e., the storage points will have water to the extent of 40 per cent of their capacity (7,412 mcft).

This, by itself, may not sound extremely comfortable, but, given the condition in the beginning of 2001, the present storage is much better.

The combined storage of Red Hills, Cholavaram and Satyamurthi Sagar in Poondi on January 1 this year was about 1,400 mcft.

Besides the three reservoirs, the Chembarampakkam tank, used to supplement the daily supply, has a storage of 1,300 mcft, though this cannot be completely made available for the city as the tank has to serve agriculturists for farming.

Till the unusual rainspell a week ago, it had been a hard time for water managers who were worried about the possibility of a third consecutive drought year. The combined storage went below the 1,000-mcft-mark during May, and since then, things turned for worse.

The southwest monsoon, which accounts for one-third of the city's annual rainfall, failed as far as the reservoirs were concerned. At the end of the SW monsoon, the combined storage stood at just around 190 mcft.

October brought cheer to the city residents as the storage went up by nearly 1,500 mcft. But, November was a disappointment as there were more dry spells than the wet ones. At the commencement of this month, the storage was only 2,340 mcft, which water managers felt would not last beyond five months. And, finally came the rains in third week of this month that increased the storage substantially.

With the present storage, the city managers are planning to maintain the daily supply level at 250 million litres a day (MLD). This means that the supply position in the New Year will be better than that in this year, though it will not be as good as that in 1998 or 1999. On an average, the quantum of water supplied ranged from 330 MLD to 450 MLD in those two years.

In the last two weeks, the supply position in the city has improved, though it is yet to attain normality. However, residents in areas such as Nungambakkam complain that the water supply has not resumed fully as the lines had been plugged for leak detection work. But the work was halted following the Chennai Corporation's ban on road cutting.

Apart from the local sources, the water managers are banking on Krishna water, which they hope to get by February. A minimum of 3,000 mcft is expected and if this is realised, the city's demand for summer can be managed smoothly.

A senior official of the State Government says that Andhra Pradesh, which has initiated action for carrying out repair works on some portions of the Kandaleru-Poondi Canal that were damaged during the rains, assured Tamil Nadu that the works would be completed by the end of January. ``Our latest information is that the execution of the works has begun.''

To review the progress of the situation, the standing liaison committee, comprising senior officials of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, is expected to meet in mid-January.

Meanwhile, the city water agency, which has invited bids for implementation of the revised Veeranam scheme, has been receiving ``keen queries'' from firms all over the country.

Going by the nature of conditions laid down in the bids, some companies may form one consortium or consortia to get the contracts. The officials say ``as the parameters for eligibility are set high, the project will be entrusted only to those who are sound, technically and financially.''

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