The recent news of two frogs being married in Udupi, Karnataka to appease the rain gods might have amused a lot of us. As much as it tells about the superstition, it also points to the desperation of the villagers with respect to water scarcity in the country.
A woman gets stabbed with a knife by a neighbour over a water dispute. No, this is not the imagery of the dystopian situation that awaits us in future. Instead, it is very much the reality of our times.
In Chennai, a 28-year-old woman was stabbed by a man in her apartment on June 13. Mohan went down his house to switch on the motor as there was no water in his house. There he met his neighbour Ramakrishnan. Mohan and Ramakrishnan got into an argument over the same. Mohan’s wife Subhashini too came down asking for the motor to be switched on. Ramakrishnan refused and in a fit of anger ran towards his house to get a knife. He then stabbed her with the knife and was then shifted to hospital.
Acute water shortage, combined with the ever-soaring temperature has been a matter of grave concern for the people of Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu government recently sought for a Rs 5,398 crore financial assistance from the Centre to carry out various drinking water and drought mitigation programmes.
The Parched State Of Tamil Nadu
The Madras High Court rapped the state government on the current situation of water shortage. It asked the ruling government to submit a detailed report on desalination and water availability measures by June 17.
The situation is so bad that it has crippled the health care services, more especially in places like state capital Chennai. Most of the water needs are met by tankers, eventually leading to high costs being incurred. Great efforts are being made across hospitals for this to not reflect in the treatment of patients.
Not just hospitals, the IT and hospitality industry too has been gravely hit. Many IT companies in Chennai have adopted the rotational system of working while many others have given employees the option to work from home. Only critical teams are made to work out of the office premise.
A lot of hotels have reduced production and in some cases even the operating hours. Innovative measures like switching from steel plates to banana leaves and maintenance of water harvesting structures are been resorted to. Buckets and mugs have replaced many water tap facilities across hotels.
Increased Dependence On Water Tankers
Acute water shortage has automatically increased the dependence on water tankers. So much so that when the private water tanker companies went on a strike in Chennai, the whole of city struggled to make ends meet.
Reportedly, taking advantage of the situation, many private tankers had hiked their fees by two times in Chennai. They are charging anywhere between Rs 2500 to Rs 6000 per load of a tanker.
The dependence of residents on private tankers have rendered groundwater levels of districts like Kancheepuram at a dangerously low level. According to the data from the State Ground and Surface Water Resources Centre, the groundwater level in Kancheepuram district went down by 5 cm in just a month’s time between April and May. In a few cases, the groundwater levels have plummeted from 50 feet to 400 feet in just one year. As per a report by The New Indian Express, about eight to nine borewells were allegedly being operated illegally by private tankers in Kundrathur locality.
24 out of 32 Districts Drought-Hit
Water crisis glooms over 24 districts of the 32 in the states which are now declared drought-hit. The districts of Trichy, Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur, and Tanjore, which span 1,400,000 acres of the delta region of the Cauvery are the home to the paddy cultivators of Tamil Nadu, reported Business Standard. Cultivation in these districts which comprise for 45.4% of state’s paddy production took a hit as the delta region suffered from an inadequate supply of water from Mettur Dam.
The water levels in the four main reservoirs of Chennai are said to be at its lowest. The current quantities cumulatively add to just 1.3% of the total capacity, fifth lowest recorded in the last 74 years.
Authorities say less rainfall is the reason behind for the parched condition of the state. Chief Minister K Palaniswami has earmarked Rs 823.64 crore for the water scarcity in the state. However, activists and farmers believe this is not enough to resolve the situation. The activists are highlighting the lack of planning by the government behind the crisis
It is often said that the third world war would be fought over water. While earlier it was said to bring water scarcity to people’s attention, this adage no longer seems an exaggeration. This article is a part of series The Logical Indian is focussing on to bring to you reports of water scarcity which is only getting worse.