Water Crisis shows gap between rich and poor

Sonam Choki

Chennai,  March 7: People queuing up for hours before a water tanker and a tap are common in slums whereas a hotels using a lot of water for their swimming pools, laundry, and guest room is seen in Chennai.

According to a report in Times of India, states that three-star hotels use 199 litres and four-star hotels use 292 litres of water on each guest night.

On the other hand it is difficult for slum dwellers to get drinking water once in three days. The Urur Olcott fishing slum at Besant Nagar is one of the slums with poor water supply. They get drinking water from the corporation three or four times a week which is very less for them. As they are facing inadequate water supply, they have to buy water which costs around Rs. 35 per jerry cane.

Raja Kannu one of the slum dwellers said “We earn very less and on top of that half of the earning goes for water which makes our living more difficult”.

“If there is money, there is water. No money means no water” said Pallani Swami, a slum dweller at Saidapet.

The water shortage also adds to the problem of sanitation, where people have to defecate in open area. The toilets inside the community are poorly maintained with no suitable water supply inside toilets. Whenever, they visit toilets they have to carry water along. The Corporation has failed to provide a functional sewage connection because of this sewage from homes collects on the beaches which adversely affect the groundwater.

S. Jaswinder a slum dweller at Saidapet said “The past four days, we didn’t have water and when we did get it is very little.” The water lorry comes on alternate days or after two days. We are able to fill only few buckets of water.

Sometimes we literally have to fight to fill a few buckets of water, he added.

Poor slum dwellers of Saidapet cannot have their own water pumps but they have built a community tank, which they use for their water needs whenever they face a crisis. However, the maintenance and cleaning of the tank is poor.

We don’t get clean water and boiling water everyday consumes wood or gas, or we have to pay extra electricity bills. A lot of people avoid the critical step of cleansing the water and put their families at serious health risks, said Kannu at Besant Nagar.

While hotels, industries and well-off families use a lot of water for leisure purpose for poor people, it’s difficult to get drinking water. The water crisis is most common among the poor at present but if the water is not used properly the situation may become worst.

Swimming pool at Residential area, Thiruvanmiyur| Sonam Choki

According to a report in Indian Express “The city records a 55 per cent deficit in rainfall last monsoon season, reservoirs are running dangerously low and ground water resources are under immense strain. Studies indicate that ground water levels across the city have reduced further by an average of 1-1.5 metres below the ground level since July.

Similarly, the report in Times of India states that the water levels in Thiruvanmiyur have dipped to 6.22 metres.

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