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Water woes of southern suburbs

K. Manikandan

Residents complain of insufficient supply, poor maintenance

— Photo: K. Manikandan

DOWN THE DRAIN: Water gushing out of a public tap in Pallikaranai on Tuesday.

TAMBARAM: Inadequate water supply, poor maintenance of infrastructure and misuse of precious drinking water are posing problems for the residents of Town Panchayats in the southern suburbs of Chennai.

Residents of Town Panchayats have urged the State government to ensure that the urban local bodies pay more attention to proper maintenance of public taps and water lines.

As per the norms of the State government, residents of Town Panchayats are entitled to receive 70 litres per person per day. But Chitlapakkam Town Panchayat, with a population of 25,292 (2001 Census figures), received only around 9 lakh litres of water every day.

Based on the population figures, the local body ought to receive at least 18 lakh litres, pointed out members of the Chitlapakkam Residents Association Coordination Committee, in a recent letter to the Chief Minister’s Cell.

Moreover, the actual population was close to 50,000 based on the electoral rolls, the Committee’s members said, adding that the urban local body required nothing less than 35 lakh litres a day. Incidentally, Chitlapakkam is the only Town Panchayat in the southern suburb of Chennai that gets Palar Water under the Tambaram – Pallavaram Combined Water Supply Scheme.

Many other Town Panchayats in Tambaram area too face the problem of inadequate supply as they depend on infiltration wells sunk adjacent to lakes and water bodies to supply drinking water to residents. With water bodies being threatened due to encroachments and pollution, both quantity and quality were affected, said a councillor of Peerkankaranai Town Panchayat, that draws water from two wells around the Peerkankaranai Lake.

With apartment complexes mushrooming in the suburbs, the local bodies were simply not equipped with resources to meet the growing demands, civic groups said. Residents too misused water supplied by Town Panchayats for gardening, cleaning utensils and vehicles and even in construction activities.

Scenes of residents taking water from public taps through hose pipes and storing them in underground and overhead sumps are common in Pallikaranai and Sembakkam Town Panchayats.

Further, staff in these urban local bodies were just not competent or skilled enough to ensure proper maintenance of water pipelines and taps, something that senior engineers of the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board admit.

TWAD Board engineers said they located sources, created storing facilities and installed supply systems and their role ended with that.

However, illegal connections, poor use of material and equipment and improper maintenance disturbed the entire facility, resulting in wastage through leakages, the engineers added.

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