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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The disruption in the supply of drinking water in private tankers from the Kerala Water Authority’s (KWA) filling facility at Aruvikkara for the sixth consecutive day on Wednesday has raised concerns about the quality of water received by bulk users.
Consequent to the manhandling of the Aruvikkara panchayat president by a couple of tanker drivers on September 11 the supply of water in tankers came to a standstill. Local politicians have made it clear that they would allow tankers to ply only after the drivers concerned are apprehended by the police.
The KWA used to supply water to private tankers from its facility at Vellayambalam. This service was what was shifted to Aruvikkara last year. Even after September 11, the KWA has not started a full scale supply of water to private tankers from Vellayambalam. Water is being provided only to those handful of tankers that bear specific requests from institutions. So, where do operators of private tankers get their water from?
Even while drawing water from the water authority’s facilities, some unscrupulous tanker operators used to take water from canals, ponds or even from abandoned quarries that dot the outskirts of the city so that they can increase their profit margins. The customers—including big hospitals and even individuals—thought they were paying for “KWA water.”
Sources in the KWA pointed out that even now there is no dip in the demand for water tankers, especially from bulk users such as hospitals. “So where are the tanker operators getting water from? Obviously, from some canal or pond. There is no way the purity of this water is going to be checked,” a senior KWA engineer said here on Wednesday. A temporary solution to this problem could be the supply of water to private tankers—albeit in a selective manner—from Vellayambalam.
For the KWA, however, this appears to be a touchy issue. According to KWA engineers, when water was being supplied to tankers from Vellayambalam, it had an impact on the quantity of water available for distribution in the city; the water for the tankers was being drawn from the reservoir that serviced areas in the low-lying zone. At Aruvikkara the water for the tankers is taken from the Elevated Service Reservoir that is now not directly linked to the supply of drinking water to the city. So, the KWA may not be that keen to restart in any manner, the supply from Vellayambalam. For tanker operators, though, Vellayambalam is the ideal source. Both their fuel costs and turnaround time would be sharply reduced.
For the moment, nobody—the panchayat, the KWA or the government—seems keen to restore tanker service from Aruvikkara or keen to put in place a purity verification system for water supplied through such tankers.
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