Chennai Residents Blame Metro Tunnel For Groundwater Depletion

Not far from the Nandanam Metro Station in Chennai, residents in Bakthavatsalam Street say the underground tunnel has led to the depletion of groundwater in their area.

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Residents in Chennai are facing an unprecedented water shortage.


Chennai: 

As Chennai faces an unprecedented drinking water shortage, residents in many pockets of the city blame the Chennai Metro Rail's underground tunnel for aggravating the crisis.

Not far from the Nandanam Metro Station in Chennai, residents in Bakthavatsalam Street say the underground tunnel has led to the depletion of groundwater in their area.

Vijay, a local, says he was compelled to spend Rs 1.5 lakh for installation of a 9,000-litre underground tank at home. "Before the metro project started, there was never a water shortage... no matter how severe summer was," he recalls.

Rajeswari, another resident, says, "The government should commission a study on groundwater depletion before it is too late."

The 45-km Chennai metro network has a 24-km-long underground tunnel which will further expand. Chennai Metro's MD Pankaj Kumar Bansal told NDTV such issues have not been faced in other states. "Presently we can't comment as no research has been done on this. We haven't heard of such issues due to metro projects in other states where metro trains have been operational for much longer," he said.

With a deficit monsoon in the last few years, all four reservoirs in the city supplying drinking water are drying up. 

The Chennai Metro Water is currently supplying only 550 million litres a day against the requirement of 830 million litres a day. It has cut the supply by 35 percent. Many residents say they get the water supply only on alternate days.

Panneer Selvam, a local, says he takes a bath once in two or three days due to water shortage. "Because of the water scarcity, we are able to take a shower only once in two or three days. For washing, we take clothes to my sister's house in Kovur, about 30 km away," he says.

Jaya, a housewife, says, "Till elections began, we had regular supply but now it's irregular. Sometimes, we get the water supply just for an hour but that too is dirty."

In 2015, Chennai was struck by unprecedented floods. Over the years, experts say nothing has been done to boost water storage in the city. 

Chennai Metro Water authorities have planned to tap water from agricultural wells in adjoining Tiruvallur district besides the Veeranam lake in Cuddalore to ensure supply till the arrival of monsoon.

The state government has now ordered "special poojas" (special prayers) so that it rains.

Poorna, a young techie, says she doesn't think "prayers would help". "Shouldn't they instead be setting up new de-salination plants, de-silting lakes than performing yagnams? I am worried tomorrow they'd blame God for everything and shirk their responsibilities."

With no elected local bodies over the last two years in the state, pressure is mounting on the state government to come up with a long-term sustainable solution.
 

Jaya, a housewife, says, "Till elections began, we had regular supply but now it's irregular. Sometimes, we get the water supply for an hour but that too is dirty."

In 2015, Chennai was struck by unprecedented floods. Over the years, experts say nothing has been done to boost water storage in the city. Chennai Metro Water authorities have planned to tap water from agricultural wells in adjoining Tiruvallur district besides the Veeranam lake in Cuddalore to ensure supply till the arrival of monsoon.

The state government has now ordered "special poojas" so that it rains.

Poorna, a young techie, says she doesn't think "prayers would help". "Shouldn't they instead be setting up new de-salination plants, de-silting lakes than performing yagnams? I am worried tomorrow they'd blame God for everything and shirk their responsibilities."

With no elected local bodies over the last two years in the state, pressure is mounting on the state government to come up with a long-term sustainable solution.

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