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Water Supply to Chennai

Sometimes the government is unable to provide the public facilities to the satisfaction of all its citizens.

Let us take the case of water supply in Chennai. As we saw earlier certain areas like Saidapet gets very little water whereas areas like Anna Nagar gets copious water.


Municipal supply meets only about half the needs of the people of the city, on an average.

Areas that are close to the storage points get more water whereas colonies further away receive less water.

The burden of shortfalls in water supply falls mostly on the poor.

The middle class, when faced with water shortages, are able to cope through a variety of private means such as digging bore wells, buying water from tankers and using bottled water for drinking.

The wealthy have safe drinking water, whereas the poor are again left out.

In reality, universal access to ‘sufficient and safe’ water is still a dream.


Private companies’ role in water supply

  • Many private companies are providing water to cities due to shortage of water. These companies buy water from places around the city.
  • In Chennai, water is taken from nearby towns like Mamandur, Palur, Karungizhi and from villages to the north of the city using a fleet of over 13,000 water tankers.
  • Every month the water dealers pay farmers an advance for the rights to exploit water sources on their land.
  • The water that is taken away from the farms is creating a deficit for irrigation and for drinking water for the villagers. There is also a drastic drop in ground water levels in these areas.

Alternative sources of water supply

  • Shortage water supply during summer months is a common phenomenon in many cities across India.
  • According to the Urban Water Commission, water supplied to households should be at the rate of 135 litres per person.

  • A shortage of municipal water is often taken as a sign of failure of the government.
  • The shortage in water supply by the government /Municipality is usually augmented by private water supply at a high cost.
  • In most countries water supply is taken up by the government, as private water supply is costly and many cannot afford it.

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