Friday, December 19, 2008


It is tempting to think that with Rainwater Harvesting having been mandated for both new constructions as well as for existing buildings, the problem of Chennai's water supply has been adequately addressed. The move has surely helped in improving the water table (apart from adding one more strand to the red tape of seeking an approval to construct a building), but there are still large areas of the city that have to cope with limited availability of clean water for cooking and drinking. It is estimated that Chennai and its suburbs currently need about 1.5 billion litres of water a day, a figure that is expected to touch 2 billion in the next 12 years. The gap between demand and locally produced supply is almost 50%; water from the Krishna river, in Andhra Pradesh has been of immense help in narrowing that gap down. And thanks to the good monsoons of the past few years, the gap is even lesser, now.

At the turn of the millenium however, Chennai was completely dry. The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (Metrowater) was simply unable to pump water out of the ground. Various ideas were put forward, including proposals for a giant de-salination plant feeding on the Bay of Bengal. Through all that hot air that circulated, the only means of getting water across to the city was the fleet of tankers that were owned or leased by the Metrowater. Traversing the city from their filling points at various locations in the 16 Metrowater zones, the tankers tried to meet the water needs of the city dwellers; but the long lines of colourful plastic pots, queueing up for the tanker to arrive, just did not seem to be shortening. Today, some of those proposals are being, or have been, implemented. The desalination plants are being built, even if on a less grandiose scale than was originally proposed.

But until those plans are implemented, tankers (like the one in the picture, coming out of the Mylapore - Nandanam distribution point) will remain the lifeline to a majority of Chennai's citizens!


Anonymous said...

how did i too post a same title .... funny coincidences ...

Shantaram said...

>> Ram>> Ha ha! At least they are different lines!