Chennai: Private water tanker owners squarely blame successive state governments for the current deadlock.
An analysis about the indefinite strike resorted to by private water tankers in the background of the recent court order declaring those extracting ground water 'illegally', as liable to be punished, reveals that there had been so far hardly any system followed by owners of water tankers.
Even the existing norms were thrown to the winds, and officials had all along turned a blind eye to violations. Since water is a precious commodity, and is a very brisk business in the city, none cared about how the private water tankers exploited the available groundwater, resulting in a steep fall in groundwater levels.
Sources say that Chennai city and suburbs have around 17,000 private water tankers catering to various commercial establishments, apartments, individual houses, hotels and corporate companies.
Needless to say, this business has a strong connection with politics. Spurred by such backing, these private water tanker lorries draw water from agricultural borewells mainly from the suburbs, to which officials turn a blind eye.
A member from South Chennai Private Water Tankers, under conditions of anonymity said, “Even as Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) is only operating around 700 lorries, besides piped-water supply, the number of lorries is hardly enough to meet the drinking water needs of the city.”
He claimed that private water tankers play a commendable role in lessening the drinking water scarcity in the city.
Asked about licence to draw water, the member replied, “We have long been demanding the government to regulate the system of drawing water. But, successive state governments never gave us any guidelines. Under such conditions, the court has banned drawing water from borewells, and the ball is in the government's court now.”
“Most of the residents regularly buy water from us, and we mainly supply water to commercial establishments, industries, hotels and institutions,” said K Nathan, owner of a private tanker in Tambaram.
It is learnt that even if tanker owners are willing to get licences, the government has not yet formulated any such system, which the tanker owners play to their advantage....