Chennai has been reeling under its worst water crisis in decades. Read this article to know more about the water crisis. More in News

  • The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has announced that 10 MLD (million liters a day) of water will be transported to the city for the next six months from Jolarpettai, Vellore district.
  • The Tamil Nadu government has also accepted Kerala’s offer to provide water.
  • Water scarcity has resulted in the IT corridor in Chennai suffering, with most companies even asking employees to work from home.
  1. Four main reservoirs (Sholavaram, Chembarambakkam, Poondi, and Red Hills) nearly empty.
  2. The city has not had rain in nearly 200 days; only over the past few days has the city has seen light rainfall.
  3. Groundwater has been over extracted.
  4. Failure of rainwater harvesting (RWH)
  • Rainwater harvesting (RWH) was initiated in 2000
  • The order mandated that all existing and new buildings in Tamil Nadu install RWH structures.
  • But an audit by the non-governmental organization Rain Centre has shown that most government buildings in Chennai do not have a functioning RWH structure; these include several police stations and municipality buildings.
Solution The Chennai water problem must result not in fire-fighting strategies but in systematized solutions. According to a recent NITI Aayog report, 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater by 2020 if usage continues at the current rate.
  1. Urban water planning and management boards: Metropolitan cities should set up urban water planning and management boards, a permanent body similar to urban development authorities, that regulate the supply, demand, and maintenance of water services and structures.
    • The urban water management board should also oversee the desilting of lakes in the city on a regular basis.
    • The board must also have regulatory powers to monitor the maintenance of RWH structures at homes and in offices.
      • In existing RWH structures, pipes are either broken or clogged, filtration equipment is not cleaned, bore pits have too much silt and drains are poorly maintained.
    • The body also needs to work in coordination with governments on granting approvals to new mass working spaces.
  2. Deepened beds of existing lakes: The beds of existing lakes can be deepened for greater water storage and better water percolation.
  3. Additional desalination plants should also be commissioned
  4. Progressive tariff: Metro Water and groundwater use should be measured and priced progressively, similar to the electricity tariff, where the quantity of use determines the price.
    • The board can practice differential pricing and cross-subsidize those households with a lower per capita income use of water.
    • For this to be implemented effectively, water meters are a must.
  • The scarcity of essential resources not only leads to economic losses but also social unrest.
  • We must learn from the experiences of other cities across the world such as Cape Town, South Africa, where water saving is being driven through the concepts such as Day Zero, thus promoting better and more efficient use of water.
  • A sustainable governance solution to this problem along with public participation is essential to ensure that our future generations do not suffer as a result of our failures.
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