In many parts of the city, water has not been supplied for a week, and even daily tasks have become an incredible struggle.

The drought is so bad in Thiruvananathapuram many dont even have water to wash themselves
news Drought Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 20:21

Bhaskara Pillai says that in 76 years he has never seen such a drought. Come midnight, he has to walk 100 metres every other day to collect water from a nearby public tap. Not an easy task for the ailing man who lives on Asiwarya Lane in Amabalamukk in Thiruvananthapuram city with his 86-year-old sister.

“We haven’t got water supply in our home for the past 12 days. My sister is not able to walk. I do the household chores on my own. My health condition is also not well. I can’t carry weights, as I have problem with my knees. I don’t have any option but to carry water from the public tap at the junction,” says Bhaskara Pillai, panting breathlessly as he talks. Ever since summer set in, the water crisis has been acute in Thiruvananthapuram and its surrounding rural areas like Pantha, Tholikode and Vithura and coastal regions like Vizhinjam as well. In the city, more than half the city, comprising high-lying areas like Kowdiar, Ambalamukku, Nanthancode, Aakkulam, Vattiturkkava and Chanthacila its severe.

The crisis in Thiruvananthapuram has affected people’s lives like never before. They can’t even sleep peacefully at night, since the water supply in public taps begins at midnight and ends before dawn. “What else we can do. Water in the public tap is available only at midnight. We have to be awake at that time. On some days, it’s not even available at that time,” Bhaskara Pillai says.

All the homes in the area are struggling with a similar situation. Just two homes away Suresh Kumar a retired sales tax officer bought bottled water for Rs 3500 for use at home for two days. “We don’t get supply of water in our homes for seven or eight days together. Sometimes we avoid cooking and buy food from outside so that we can avoid having to wash utensils,” he says. The situation has gotten so bad that Suresh’s wife, an employee of the University of Kerala, has to bring water home from work everyday. “My wife is an employee of the University of Kerala. She carries cans with her while going to office and fills water from the office tap when she is returning. Washing clothes is a big problem. I went to my ancestral home two days ago to get the clothes washed,” he says. 

Hazeena, living in Karunya Lane in the area, has a similar story to tell. Her four-member family depends on the water supplied through public taps after midnight. She is near tears describing the struggle her family has undergone with water supply having stopped for the past week in their home. “Leave aside other things, we have to use the toilet. Clothes have just been kept in bundles as we can’t wash them. Food is bought from outside, and even when we cook it’s minimal, to avoid washing utensils and ingredients and so on. Nobody in the house is so healthy as to carry water from the public tap, but what else we can do? We have to relocate somewhere. It has happened never before,” she says.

Murukan, who works in a laundry at Kowdiar, lives in Erappur five kilometres away.  At his home, he says, taking care of his young grandson has become a struggle thanks to the lack of water. “We have a grandson who is one and half years old. Whenever he has to defecate, it becomes very difficult to wash him. We wash his clothes once in three days only. Our own clothes, we can think of washing only once in a week,” he says.

His wife Mini, who works in a petrol pump in Kowdiar, says that the situation is worse at work. “We start our shift at 6am and end by 2pm. There is no water in the toilet. People from outside also use the toilet since it is a petrol pump. Three women work there. We can’t use the toilet now as it’s very dirty. What’s more we don’t even have water to drink,” she says. Ansar, a juice shop owner, says that water scarcity has affected his business. “We use bottled water to make juice. But to wash utensils there is no water. We used to sell juice for Rs 14000 per day. This summer it has reduced to Rs 8000 per day,”.

The state water authority, together with the City Corporation has been struggling to compensate for the scarcity with water tankers in affected areas. The water authority has set up 51 kiosks in different parts of the city, with each water tank having a capacity of 5000 litres. The tanks are filled regularly, but are often insufficient to meet the demand.

The Water authority also imposed water rationing in the city from April 18, as storage levels dropped drastically in the Aruvikkara reservoir, the sole water source for the city. It has stopped supplying water to around 20 firms whose water demand was too high. It has also disconnected supply to a swimming pool in Vellayambalam, which was consuming 2500 liters of water per month.

The state Water Resource Department on Thursday has decided to pump water from Neyyar dam to Aruvikkara reservoir to deal with the situation. There is, at present, 13 million cubic metres (13 mm 3) of water in Neyyar reservoir, of which only 6 mm 3 can be spared to supplement water supply to the city.

On an average the city needs 400 million litres of water per day. The water level in the Aruvikkara reservoir depends on the inflow allowed into it from the Peppara dam, from where water is pumped into the city. According to reports the water storage in Peppara dam is only sufficient for use till May 22. If the idea to pump water from Neyyar dam fails or if it does not receive summer rain, Thiruvananthapuram is facing some grim days indeed. 

 

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