Around 100 hostels in Chennai’s busiest neighbourhoods have stopped operations over the past few days, seemingly contradicting the Tamil Nadu government’s claims that the state capital is not suffering a drinking water shortage.
According to the Chennai Hostel Owners’ Welfare Association, at least 100 hostels owned by their 350 members have stopped operations and requested inmates to leave the premises.
K S Manoharan, the secretary of the association, owns 10 hostels and said that he himself closed two hostels already due to water shortage. “Each member of our association owns multiple hostels and they are all in serious crisis. Many more hostels are to be closed in the next one or two weeks if the crisis continues,” Manoharan said.
Another state level association of hostel owners, Tamil Nadu Hostel Owners’ Welfare Association, said at least 15 among the 200-odd ladies hostels affiliated to their association too have stopped operations in Chennai city.
Shobana Madhavan, president of the association, said several hostel owners who have booked metro water tankers are still waiting even after 20 days, despite being promised to get it in one or two days. “And private water tankers who used to supply for Rs 1500 have now increased their rate upto to Rs 3,500 to 4,000….,” she said
Meanwhile, the decision of several IT companies to make their employees work from home due to water crisis has worsened the crisis further. “That increased our water consumption…,” Manoharan said, adding that in many places, inmates have refused to move out as they do not have a place to go.
A senior metro water official, on condition of anonymity, said there is a huge imbalance in the water supply system, which traditionally prioritises certain customers. “…There is an obligation to maintain the usual supply to government settlements, VIPs, and elite and influential neighbourhoods in the city,” he said.
T N Hariharan, managing director of Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board, was not available for comment.
However, the state government has categorically denied reports of drinking water shortage in Chennai. On Monday, Rural and Muncipal Administration Minister S P Velumani stated that the government system is capable to maintain adequate supply of water for Chennai till November, and termed reports of IT professionals being asked to work from home en masse in several firms reportedly due to water crisis a “manufactured” news.