Water crisis hits Kodaikanal hills

Kodaikanal is facing acute water crisis owing to failure of monsoon and rapidly depleting storage level in the dam near Kodaikanal Observatory, the main drinking water source for the town.

Many streams on the upper and lower Palani hills are dry. At present residents in the town get water once in seven days and residents living in the upper ridge areas receive water once in 10 or 15 days.

Kodaikanal Municipality has been solely dependent on bore wells near the lake to slake the drinking water needs of the residents. “But no one knows how long these sources will last,” worried municipal officials say.

Some private water suppliers in order to retain their clients have gone to the extent of buying land that has some water source like streams.

They collect water from these streams and then supply it to hotels and restaurants.

The situation is set to aggravate after April 15 as inflow of tourists from various parts of the country will increase manifold. Water needs of hotels and restaurants will go up further, said Gopinath, a resident in Anandagiri.

With a blanket ban on sinking of bore wells, the water supplied by the municipality is used by the residents for all purposes. “Where and how can we store so much water needed for one week”, he wondered.

Demand for drinking water has increased manifold in the last three decades owing to rapid increase in population and quantum jump in number of tourists visiting the hill station.

While officials blame failure of monsoon for the water shortage, environmentalists and ecologists charge that it is man-made. Destruction of large tracts of marshy grasslands in catchment areas of supply dam, rapid growth of mono crops like eucalyptus have damaged the eco-system severely, said S. Raj Mohan, an environmentalist.

Preventing soil erosion, removal of silt in supply tank, creation of Shola forests and protection of grasslands in upper reaches will certainly help in solving drinking water crisis in the town, he added.

Lack of long-term planning and strategy to improve drinking water sources are the prime reasons for the crisis, said environmentalists.

As streams dry up in Kodaikanal, it has a direct impact on Palani town and nearby areas. It is these streams that feed more than 10 dams including Amaravathi and Palar-Porundhalar dam in Palani to Sothuparai dam in Theni district.

Due to poor storage level in these dams, residents in the temple town have been getting water once in four days. Earlier, they received water daily.

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