[Reader-list] At the mercy of tanker lorries

T Peter peter.ksmtf at gmail.com
Tue Mar 9 19:13:59 IST 2010

At the mercy of tanker lorries

Special Correspondent


Vizhinjam residents spend most of their earnings on murky drinking water

Thiruvananthapuram: Impoverished residents in the coastal village of
Vizhinjam barely two kilometres away from the Kovalam international
beach resort dread the summer. Every year, they are forced to shell
out most of their meagre daily earnings for drinking water supplied in
tanker lorries.

An average family in the fishing village spends about Rs.1,000 a month
on water. The village is almost entirely dependent on a fleet of
tanker lorries that make a killing from supplying water during the hot
months. Piped water has remained a distant dream here.

With no water supply scheme, the people are forced to depend on
polluted sources, ignoring health hazards. Epidemics like cholera
stalk the crowded colonies. Water-logging and accumulation of garbage
add to the risk.

Predictions of a severe drought have only added to their woes. Tanker
operators have jacked up their prices to take advantage of the acute
shortage of water throughout the district. A pot of water, which used
to sell for Rs.2, now costs Rs.3.

The residents have no idea of where the water supplied by tankers is
sourced from or whether it is potable. With most of the families
depending on fishing, fishermen have to be supplied with potable water
to prevent dehydration at sea.

“During the lean season, a fisherman earns hardly Rs.50 a day, out of
which at least Rs.30 is spent on water that is often hard and
brackish. We have no idea where the water is collected from. It is
probably sourced from a dirty canal or an abandoned quarry, who
knows?” laments T.Peter, State president of the Kerala Swathantra
Matsya Thozhilali Federation (KSMTF).

“Most of us are aware of the health hazards of contaminated water but
in the absence of a piped water supply scheme, we are forced to take
the risk. It is ironic that the residents in Vizhinjam have to shell
out so much money for water transported in tanker lorries when the
swimming pools at the Kovalam beach resort nearby have adequate water
supply from the Aruvikkara reservoir. Extending the pipeline towards
Vizhinjam across a distance of just two km would be a good option. But
a section of officials who are hand in glove with the tanker lorry
operators have torpedoed the proposal,” he alleged.

On Monday, the Theeradesa Mahila Vedi, the women's wing of KSMTF took
out a march to the Secretariat demanding government intervention to
resolve water scarcity at Vizhinjam. The protestors brandished empty
pots to highlight their demand. The women vented their ire by hurling
the pots over the police barricade into the Secretariat premises.

Inaugurating the protest, Mr. Peter demanded free supply of drinking
water to the parched coastal areas. He said the federation would be
forced to spearhead an agitation if the Government continued to turn a
deaf ear to its pleas.

Leaders of KSMTF and Theeradesa Mahila Vedi addressed the protestors.

KSMTF submitted a memorandum to Minister for Water Resources
N.K.Premachandran urging the government to resolve the water scarcity
in the densely populated coastal belt.

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