Alappuzha: Potable water remains a precious commodity for Neelamperoor residents, mostly farmers and daily-wage workers.
Nowadays, they are forced to shell out Rs 300 a month for 500-litre water. When summer hits, the rate will go up to Rs 750.
Their water woes continue for decades. It happens in an area (Kuttanad) downstream four rivers - Meenachal, Pampa, Punnamada and Achankovil.
The Kerala Water Authority currently meets merely 30 per cent of their requirement.
Authorities launched Neerattupuram water project in 1968 to tackle the crisis in 14 panchayats of the Kuttanad Taluk and reintroduced it in 2005. But it reached nowhere leaving hundreds of thousands of people in misery.
Ambily, 38, a homemaker from East Chennankari of Neelamperoor Panchayat, never got piped water from KWA taps in the area. Residents depend upon private water suppliers for their needs.
“They often refuse to provide water as there is no road connectivity to reach our doorsteps. We need to pay extra," she says. "They bring tankers on the main road some 500 m away, and we connect them to our tanks using long hoses."
Few of the residents have set up many water storage tanks at home to harvest rainwater. But others don’t have the luxury of land to accommodate them. "We will harvest maximum rainwater every rainy season. It is the only access of free drinking water for us now’, says, V. G. Thomas, 66, Vaniyapurakal. ‘
If the rain subsides, we have no option but private suppliers. The private parties bring water from Kottayam and Idukki districts. So the water is so expensive.’
They use tanker water only for cooking and drinking purpose, and river water for other purposes.
"When water pumped out from the paddy fields, its colour turns black due to the indiscriminate use of chemicals," says Vasappan, 65, Kalaripppu....