Even while Chennai is waiting to receive its 10 MLD/day water from Jolarpet via train from July 7, the Tamil Nadu Private Water Tanker Lorry Ownersâ€™ Association has announced an indefinite strike beginning July 8.
The announcement came soon after close to 40 water tankers were reportedly seized at Parivakkam village in Tiruvallur district where villagers alleged that they are plundering their groundwater. The private tankers were tapping water from farm wells in the area. In June this year, the Madras High Court had reiterated that tapping groundwater water illegally was equivalent to theft.
The Times of India quotes P Saravanan, coordinator of Tamil Nadu Water Lorry Ownersâ€™ Association, as saying, â€śThis is not the first such incident. We are harassed almost every day by the government, revenue officials and police for drawing water from villages. We only serve the people and supply water to areas where the government is unable to. A few days ago, tankers were seized at Bangarampettai. In Tiruporur, about 10 tankers were seized. Last week, notices were issued to private tanker owners in Erode asking them to not draw water from villages. Unless the government resolves this issue, we will go ahead with the strike.â€ť
Earlier, in May as well, the TN Private Water Tanker Lorry Ownersâ€™ Association had called for a strike. The Association, however, called it off at last minute, hoping to gain an audience with the Chief Minister. The Association, which has 15,000 water tankers functioning across the state, has close to 5,000 tankers supplying water to Chennai from Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts.
According to a report in News18 Tamil, the Associationâ€™s state president, Nijalingam, has said that due to insufficient groundwater, private water tankers have not been able to draw water from anywhere. He also adds that their requests to meet with the authorities have also not been heeded and if the government were to point out places from where they can draw water, they will be able to function without a hitch.