19/06/2019 1:07 PM IST | Updated 19/06/2019 6:45 PM IST

Water Crisis Grips Tamil Nadu: Water Tanker Prices Soar, Hostels Shut Down

Chief Minister Palaniswami has claimed the issue was not as big as was being made out, especially in the media.

ARUN SANKAR via Getty Images
People line up to get drinking water from a tanker. 

Chennai and several other parts of Tamil Nadu are in the midst of a severe water crisis with Chief Minister K Palaniswami saying that drought and deficient monsoon had resulted in depletion of groundwater levels. 

The state government said it was largely dependent on ground water to meet the requirements till the onset of north east monsoon in October. 

The northeast monsoon brings the bulk of rainfall for Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai, which is facing a very severe water shortage.

“The (northeast) monsoon will arrive only by October-November. Till then we have to meet the requirements only from groundwater sources,” he said. 

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What is happening?

In one of the worst summers, taps in parts of the state, including Chennai have gone dry, affecting citizens and corporates alike.

Most residents, reported News18, have been forced to book water tankers for their daily needs. However, the waiting period has increased to 25 days because the demand is more than the supply, the report added.

Private water tankers are charging exorbitant rates to supply water to residences in Chennai, The News Minute reported. In the last three months cost for 12,000 litres of water has increased from Rs 1500 to Rs 6000, the report added.

While people queuing up with plastic pots in the city has become a common sight, IT companies are going in for various measures, including work from home to stave off the problem, PTI reported.

Employees from a cross-section of IT majors said their managements have turned to various ways — including reducing the number of bathrooms — to handle the situation, even as tankers and alternative sources are quenching the thirst, albeit at a fortune.

Around 100 hostels in Chennai have stopped operations over the past few days, The Indian Express reported. KS Manoharan, the secretary of the Chennai Hostel Owners’ Welfare Association, owns 10 hostels and told The Indian Express that he has himself closed two hostels due to water shortage.

Restaurants and hotels in Chennai, according to IANS, are also mulling ways to deal with the water shortage.  

R Srinivasan, Secretary of Tamil Nadu Hotels Association, told IANS, “It is a major crisis faced by the hotels in Chennai and also in other parts of the state. With rains failing, the prices of vegetables have gone up. Further with the severe water shortage, the hoteliers are facing a very touch situation.” 

Madras HC pulls up state government

The Madras High Court, reported The News Minute, pulled up the Palaniswani government for mismanagement of resources. The court, according to the report, said that the water scarcity did not happen in a day and the Tamil Nadu government knew this was coming. 

The court, The Indian Express reported, also said that some of the water bodies have been destroyed or reduced in size due to encroachment. It directed the PWD secretary to submit a detailed report of the steps taken for the removal of encroachment. The next hearing, according to the report, is on 26 June. 

What has the government said?

Palaniswami has claimed the issue was not as big as was being made out, especially in the media, according to PTI. He also urged the media not to create an “illusion” of water scarcity based on a few reports.

The chief minister also said that drinking water is being supplied through tankers. “People are using this water to even wash clothes,” he said.

He said though lakes feeding Chennai have dried up, steps were being taken to ensure supply of drinking water, with efforts to augment it from Veeranam lake in Cuddalore district.

People should also understand the situation and cooperate, the chief minister, said and urged the media to not to create an “illusion” of water scarcity. 

(With PTI inputs)