Anakaputhur, a suburb right outside Chennai with a population of 52,000 people, is struggling for water just like the parched Tamil Nadu capital. The suburb, right now, is largely dependent on just four taps for water. Two of these taps are at the municipal office and two others outside a temple - residents line up their pots here as early as 5 am every day.
The rush for water in this poorest suburb of drought-hit Chennai is unbelievable. Till a few months ago, these taps supplied water round the clock. With water scarcity at its peak, officials are now supplying water for only six hours a day - three in the morning and three in the evening.
Around 10,000 people in this municipality have piped water connection but now water is supplied just once a week.
When NDTV visited, there were about 150 pots waiting to be filled with even children being roped in waiting for up to two hours to get more water. A woman had come from nearly two kilometres away.
Raji, who stays four streets away, waited for nearly two hours. "We don't use this water for drinking. We buy water to drink. Wherever we get water, we fetch from there," she said.
The burden of getting water is largely on women here. Kausalya struggles with her cycle carrying a pot on either side to her home, two streets away. Her neighbour Jayalakshmi carries seven pots on her scooter.
There's very little water in Anwar's house. His family doesn't wash clothes that often now. He told NDTV, "We used to remove clothes and put them for washing daily. Now we wear one more day." In his tiny room, he has stacked five empty pots and buckets.
A senior officer from the municipality told NDTV, "We have also deployed two tankers and more than a hundred power pumps."
The Chennai Metro Water has deployed 900 tankers for street supplies. Drivers like Basker work upto 17 hours a day making at least 10 trips. He says sometimes people target them in anger.
He said, "I've never seen a drought like this in my 20 year career as a tanker driver. Generally people cooperate but sometimes people's anger turns towards us."
When tankers arrive there is a tussle among residents to collect water. Murugan, an electrician, says he skipped work today so his family living on the first floor could get some water. He said "I stayed at home as the tanker was scheduled to come. I lose Rs 500 every alternate day."
As four reservoirs that supply water to Chennai remain parched, the Madras High Court has slammed the Tamil Nadu government for not doing enough. In a fortnight, trains would bring water to Chennai from Vellore. However, the nightmare for residents would continue till the monsoon sets in around November.
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