‘Kochi will face water crisis if more supply points not set up’: Tanker lorry associations

Operation Pure Water will allow tanker lorries to collect water only from Kerala Water Authority, which at present does not have enough distribution points in Ernakulam.
‘Kochi will face water crisis if more supply points not set up’: Tanker lorry associations
‘Kochi will face water crisis if more supply points not set up’: Tanker lorry associations
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In order to ensure the supply of clean drinking water to the residents of Kochi, Kerala State Assembly Committee on Petitions recently directed the district administration to launch ‘Operation Pure Water’. This proposed project assigns the responsibility of distributing clean drinking water in the city to the state's Kerala Water Authority (KWA) and regulates tanker lorries in the city.

The new proposed project, which will be implemented within two weeks, lays down certain directives for tank lorries, including that they must collect water only from KWA and not from private wells or other random water sources. However, these directives have caused concerns among the drinking water suppliers, who say that these regulations are “impractical”.

One of the prime directives of Operation Pure Water is that tanker lorries can collect water only from the hydrants or supply points of Kerala Water Authority (KWA).

Speaking to TNM, Zakir Husain, president of district Drinking Water Owners Welfare Association, said, “At present, we depend on many private wells in the outskirts of the city to collect drinking water as KWA facility alone does not meet the desired requirements. KWA has only about 10 hydrants in Ernakulam from where they distribute drinking water to tanker lorries. Operation Pure Water can only be implemented if the number of hydrant points are increased. Hence, this is not a feasible plan.”

According to the members of the association, there are more than 500 tanker lorries that daily distribute drinking water to apartment complexes and various commercial establishments in the city.

A majority of the city residents residing in apartment complexes and commercial establishments like restaurants and other firms depend mostly on the tanker lorries for drinking water. “Even if any small fall in the availability of water arises, it will affect city residents very severely,” says Mathew, a member of  Drinking Water Owners Welfare Association.

Though officials in charge of Operation Pure Water have said that necessary arrangements will be made to implement the project smoothly, it is still uncertain whether the hydrant points will be increased.

Apart from the concerns over the collection of drinking water, another major issue the water suppliers also point out is the high price charged by KWA for water.

“Private wells charge us around Rs 25 per kilolitre of water, while the KWA charges around Rs 60. This is one of the major issues that need to be addressed,” says Zakir Husain.

According to water suppliers, they are under high pressure to provide water at a cheaper rate. Since there are numerous suppliers and there is tight competition, residents opt for those who give water at a cheaper rate. Water by KWA is costly and not profitable for them, they say. Hence, water suppliers go in search of private wells.

“It is because of the high competition to lower the charges without incurring losses, some try to distribute low quality water,” adds Zakir.

Incidentally, a section of suppliers even uses water from quarries as it is cheap, and dangerous at the same time because of contamination. However, recently Ernakulam District Collector S Suhas put out orders banning tanker lorries from distributing water collected from abandoned stone quarries, as it was found that there was a rampant distribution of low quality water for drinking.

“Water is an essential requirement for people. Either the price should be brought down along with increasing distribution points or the people should be ready to pay a reasonable amount so that there will be no competition and suppliers won’t try to distribute low-quality water to make a profit,” adds Zakir.

According to the other directives under Operation Pure Water, tanker lorries should get a license from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to distribute drinking water. They should also be registered in the district collectorate.

After filling up water, KWA should seal the tanker and provide a bill or receipt for residents to make sure the water is of good quality. Tanker lorries should also comply with the colour codes while transporting water as per the High Court directive. Tankers transporting waste water should be painted brown, yellow for sewage and blue for tankers carrying drinking water. It also mandates that drinking water should not be used for construction purposes.


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