The past one month has seen water levels in Hyderabad, slowly but steadily decline

We are helpless Hyderabad residents speak out as city faces water crisisAll images: Nitin B and Anusha Puppala
news Water Crisis Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - 17:52

Even as Telangana's Panchayat Raj and IT minister KT Rama Rao inaugurated the Hyderabad Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMW&SB) works in the old city of Hyderabad on Tuesday, other areas of the city went bone-dry with people running out of water to drink and use.

The past one month has seen water levels in Hyderabad, slowly but steadily decline, with the city now on the brink of a water crisis - in winter!

Many citizens are bearing the brunt, and are running out of water not only for drinking and cooking but also for bathing, washing and cleaning.

The Hindu reported that places like Beeramguda near Ramachandrapuram have been left with dry taps. Tankers are in high demand for borewell water, but drinking water has become a major issue. At Shaheen Nagar, locals laugh derisively at the possibility of uninterrupted water supply in the city. In areas like Dabeerpura and Komatwadi in the old city too, the problem has been recurrent.

(A lady fills water from a tanker as taps in her house went dry)

Residents of Miyapur have to wait for two months to get a water tanker as the HMWS&SB suspended bookings due to being overbooked and having to send up to 50 trips a day to the area.

Even the University of Hyderabad (UoH), which has its campus on the outskirts of the city, is seeing 1,500 students and staff, having to order water tanks and buy water at high rates from outside the campus. Almost half of the 16 hostels in the university, including the ladies hostel in the main campus, are facing a crisis.

Why is this happening?

The water in Manjeera reservoir, the major source of drinking water for Hyderabad, dried up this year for the first time in 30 years, leaving the riverbed desolate and dotted with puddles of muddy water.

The Singur reservoir, which also provides potable water to the city with a population of eight million, also went dry this year. Against its storage capacity of 29.9 TMC, the water level dropped to 0.9 TMC.

Water in Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar reservoirs on the outskirts have also dried up.

Reports also add that Hyderabad requires 600 million gallons of water per day (MGD) for adequate use but the regular supply has been only up to 340 MGD.

The Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWS&SB), which normally draws 75 MGD from Singur and 45 MGD from Manjeera, has stopped doing so from December 1.

The HMWS&SB has since requested the government to provide Rs 134.30 crore as financial assistance under 'contingency action plan', to take up drought relief works for 2015-2016 and 2016-17.

The board has also started pumping Krishna water to four GHMC circles to tackle the situation.

Grim situation

Even posh areas of the city like Banjara Hills and areas in the IT sector have not been spared. A large number of bachelors who live in these areas are struggling to find water for their daily needs.

"We have washing machines, but we are not able to wash clothes because there is no running water. The weather is also cold and we are not even able to use the heater for hot water. What do we do?" asks Abhiram, a 22-year-old IT professional.

(Many shops in the area that sell 20 litre water cans are also doing brisk business)

"Water plants have increased the prices by Rs 5 for water cans suppliers, because they are also falling short of water. However, we have not increased the charges for customers. In general, we supply around 40 to 50 cans in a day but now we are supplying around 100 cans per day. The demand is increasing day by day and plant supply has also decreased," says Sreedhar, who owns a shop in Banjara Hills.

Raju, a security guard at an apartment in the area says, "I have been working here from past nine years but I have never seen such water problems. We used to get three to four hours of drinking water everyday but now we hardly get it for an hour. Our bore is also completely dry now."

(Raju stares into an almost emptry bore)

"We have many IT professionals and students in the apartment and they are completely dependent on water cans from the past few weeks for all purposes," he adds.

Other areas in Secunderabad like Kapra, Sainikpuri, Uppal, Malkajgiri and Alwal are doing slightly better, but they are still very close to tipping point.

The office of the HMWS&SB in Sainikpuri, sees water tankers go in and out every few minutes, even as a long queue of tankers wait to be refilled.

"There is no crisis in this side of the city. The rush is not new as many gated communities and other residential and commercial complexes run out of water and order tankers daily. While the Singur and Manjeera reservoirs have run out, we have enough water to meet the daily demand," says C Krishnamachary, the deputy manager of the division at the Sainikpuri office.

However, the tanker drivers claim otherwise.

"We used to have three motors that would pump water into the tanker but now we have only one that is functioning," one of the drivers who wished to remain anonymous says, as he points to a deserted pipe in the distance.

(One of the broken pumps wears a deserted look)

Many of the drivers say their number of trips get limited because of the long queue as the pipe fills one tanker at a time.

"Earlier we could do maybe 10-15 trips per day, but now we are only able to manage five. It will hardly take a few hours to repair both the motors but despite the office of the manager and deputy manager of the entire division being present, the motors are not being repaired" another driver adds.

(The only working pump in the entire office of the water board)

The drivers also say that if the last motor stops working, then many areas under the division of the board will dry up in a day.

The water board officials maintain that the situation will ease soon with the supply of 56 MGD of Godavari water under a new project. However, even the new supply of water is still muddy due to stirring up of sediment and foreign particles.

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