Chennai Metro Water has cut water supply to 550 million litres a day.
Chennai is staring at a drinking water crisis as four key lakes in the city have just enough supply for just 45 days. The lakes, which are the city's main source of drinking water, have a storage of just 15 per cent of their total capacity.
Chennai Metro Water, the city's main water provider, has cut water supply to 550 million litres a day, a 34 per cent drop from the usual 830 million litres. Each resident now gets 70 litres a day. The government, however, says there is no need to panic.
Authorities say they are hiring 300 agricultural wells from Chennai's neighbouring Tiruvallur district as well as tapping stone quarries, two desalination plants and the Porur lake. The state government has also allotted Rs 6,000 crore to tackle the crisis across the state.
"We are working on a war footing to address water scarcity in cities and suburban areas," says Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami.
But the water crisis, which has gripped Tamil Nadu at a time when the state is witnessing its worst drought in a century, has already triggered panic.
For the Ramanas, who live on the outskirts of Chennai with no piped water supply, the nightmare has already begun.
"It is like water everywhere but not a drop to drink. We have the Buckingham canal here but the water is salty," said Jayashree Ramana, a resident.
The family has lived without water for four days. Private well owners are turning them away as ground water is going down, which has made it difficult for them to save their crops.
"We have paid water and sewerage tax. If we are left high and dry, where do we go," said Jayashree's husband VS Ramana.
"I have seen water crisis in the past. But it would be difficult if action is not taken," said a university student Aishwarya Kannan.