In parched Hyderabad, water tankers strike it rich

While municipal water supply has become erratic, captive borewells in residential areas, apartments and townships have dried up.

Written by Janyala Sreenivas | Hyderabad | Published: August 13, 2014 1:57:10 am

With the Telangana region recording a rainfall deficit of 41 per cent this monsoon, Hyderabad — the joint capital of Telangana and the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh — is suffering an unprecedented water shortage.

While municipal water supply has become erratic, captive borewells in residential areas, apartments and townships have dried up. So the city is almost solely dependent on water tankers, which, despite the exorbitant rates, are often unable to meet the demand.

“You will see water tankers making the rounds during any time of the day, through these glitzy, multi-crore apartments with fancy names. The 600-feet deep borewells have dried up and residents are at the mercy of private suppliers,’’ says Chelukuni Rao, president of the Federation of Residents’ Welfare Association.

In the sprawling residential complexes in the IT corridor of Gachibowli, Madhapur, Kondapur and Hitec area, thousands of water tankers feed the requirements of lakhs of techies. “Water is usually supplied from 7-9 am and 9-10 pm in apartments occupied by IT professionals to suit their office timings,’’ says estate management consultant K Raghu.

While individual houses need a water tanker of 5,000 litres twice a week, the demand in these highrises is much more. For instance, the Nile Valley Towers at Madinaguda which houses over 600 families needs 50 water tankers daily. “But we often get only 30 tankers, due to which we are able to supply water for only two hours in the morning and evening. Even if we are willing to pay, the water tanker supplier is unable to give more. We pay about Rs 15,000 daily for water and it is a monthly contract,’’ says a Nile Valley manager.

The managements of some of these housing colonies have cut water supply to toilet flush tanks, wash basins and showers, limiting the supply to a single tap in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. “These are drastic steps, but needed. This makes residents more responsible and aware that there is shortage of water and they have to use it carefully,’’ says Dr Pravin Pallam. who lives in the Doctors Colony at L B Nagar.

“Please close all taps in your flat before going out. We are paying Rs 1,200 per tanker. Save precious water,’’ says a message stuck inside the lift of a highrise in Kondapur.

In the core areas of the city, the Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board is struggling to maintain supply. The board also supplies 700-900 water tankers daily, each tanker making eight deliveries of 5,000 litres each on an average per day. And there is a backlog of 500 tankers daily.

“We receive water for one hour daily and it is not enough for an apartment with nine families. Sometimes water comes after midnight. We book a water tanker four times a week, but often end up getting just two tankers, that too after paying Rs 200 extra against the current rate of Rs 800 per tanker,’’ says M A Ali, a resident of Lakdikapul.

According to Jitender Kumar of the Water Board, supply has been restricted to one-and-a-half to two hours on alternate days. In surrounding areas like Malkajgiri, supply is limited to just once in four days. While the city’s water demand is estimated at 450 million gallons daily, the Water Board can supply only 340 million gallons.

With demand so high, anyone who has a borewell is making big bucks. In fact, farmers who own borewells on the periphery of Hyderabad have turned to selling water rather than growing crop, because it has become such a lucrative trade. Some farmers have even given their borewells on lease to contractors.

“The rates for water tankers depend on the distance and urgency. For daily customers it is Rs 600 to Rs 800 per tanker (5,000 litres). If you require water at short notice, the rate is Rs 1,200. If the distance from the borewell to the delivery point is over 8 kms, it is Rs 2,000. I have two mini-truck tankers and one tractor tanker. Each tanker makes at least 15 trips daily,’’ says Vamsi Reddy, a contractor in Hafeezpet.

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