With the summer heat in Tamil Nadu set to get more cruel in the coming days thanks to the ‘Kaththiri’ season, one of the major fallouts is the water scarcity that districts could face.
There have been protests by people in isolated pockets in some districts due to lack of drinking water, while many other districts like Chennai have implemented water supply rationing measures to ensure that summer gets by without the city getting parched.
While Chennai’s water supply is taken care of solely by the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB), the rest of Tamil Nadu is taken care of by the Tamil Nadu Water Supply And Drainage Board (TWAD).
The News Minute spoke to some of the senior officers in a few districts across the state about the current water situation in their districts and how they plan to tackle a critical condition if it were to arise anytime soon.
Cuddalore, a district that lies on the Coromandel Coast, is located around 175 km south of Chennai. Known for the Neyveli Lignite Corporation and the port, Cuddalore witnessed protests by people in some places in the district demanding water.
Speaking to TNM, a senior officer at the TWAD Board Cuddalore said that the water situation in the district is not grave this year. Cuddalore taps water from under the ground through borewells and the two rivers that run across the district – Pennayar and Gadilam.
“This year the rainfall deficiency in Cuddalore is less than 20%. For now, there is no water scarcity as such in the district. We are supplying the required quantity in all town panchayats as per the reports submitted to us,” he said. Adding that some parts of the district might be facing water shortage due to borewell failures, he said the TWAD Board was doing its best to address it.
A district blessed with the Mettur Dam, Salem lies landlocked towards the west end of the state.
“Of course, there is water scarcity in this region,” began a senior officer from TWAD Board Salem, speaking to TNM about the present status of water supply in the district.
“Ground water levels have gone down a lot. It is manageable but this year there was drought which led to scarcity,” he said. Adding that the existing water resources would help tide over summer and provide supply till the end of August, he said that Mettur Dam [Cauvery river] is the major source for water in the district.
Trichy or Tiruchirapalli lies on the banks of the Cauvery river in central Tamil Nadu. Though its neighbouring Perambalur district is suffering from drought and severe water shortage, TWAD officials in Trichy claim to be doing just fine.
“As of now we are fine. We can manage for two months because the government did wetting of the Cauvery recently, so the groundwater table has been recharged. We are not expecting a problem till July end,” an officer said. The district is mainly dependent on the Cauvery, which will have decent inflow once the southwest monsoon begins in Karnataka.
Located south of Trichy, officials in Dindigul district claim to be safe in most places.
“The situation is not alarming as of now,” N Prabhuram, executive engineer (maintenance), TWAD-Dindigul told TNM.
“It is in safe zone only, except for a couple of pockets – Reddiyarchathram, Thoppampatti and Oddanchathram. These pockets have suffered monsoon failure leading to drying up of borewell sources. Hence they are demanding more water from the Cauvery to compensate for the deficit,” he added.
He also said that Dindigul corporation was safe now as far as water supply was concerned.
“We have sufficient resources to supply water for the next three months. In the past, we were supplying water once in 15 days, but now we are doing it daily or on alternate days,” he said.
Dindigul gets its share of water from the Palar, Parappalaru and Varadhamaanadhi dams and from river Cauvery near Mayanur apart from borewell sources.
While Madurai sizzled at 41.2 degree Celsius on Saturday, the water supply board is not too worried.
“Madurai has no problem for now. The wetting of the Vaigai river bed for the Chithirai festival has, to an extent, recharged the groundwater table. We are covered till June because there is storage in the dam,” shared a senior TWAD officer.
The board, however, is dependent on the southwest monsoon in Kerala which will guarantee inflow to the Vaigai Dam from June.
One of the three districts in the southern end of mainland India, Thoothukudi’s daily demand for water is around 170 MLD. The main sources of water for the district is the Thamirabharani river and the Manimuthaaru and Papanasam dams.
Speaking to TNM, a senior officer at the TWAD Board Thoothukudi said that the district has enough water to last till the end of June. “The southwest monsoon will anyway set in by the first week of June which will see inflow into these two dams. We tap water from the Thamirabharani at seven locations in the district, which is fed by these two dams. So I think we are safe for now,” he added.
With a large chunk of Tamil Nadu dependent on the southwest monsoon to solve its water problems, the Indian Meteorological Department’s prediction of a near-normal monsoon this year across the country offers a glimmer of hope to the people in these regions.