Dry taps water down COVID-19 battle in Chennai slums

Due to the lockdown, many residents feel that the usage of water has increased manifold as all the members of the family are at home all the time. | Image - Eunice Dhivya

A lot has changed for K Vijaya in the past 35 years she has been living in Chennai’s Annai Sathya Nagar. From huts, people moved to housing unit flats. New roads have been laid at least 10 times. And electricity facilities made available to all the residents.

But one thing, she says, still remains unchanged — water scarcity. “When I was young, I used to walk several kilometres with my parents to fetch water from a pipeline. Now, my grandchildren walk with me to fetch water from tanker lorries that come to nearby streets on alternate days,” she says.

With COVID-19 spreading rapidly, people in urban slums like Annai Sathya Nagar in Annanagar East face a tough choice — they can either stay home and maintain social distancing or stand in long queues to fetch water from tanker lorries. Hit hard by water scarcity, the shoving and pushing game in front of tankers has become a part of their lifestyle in recent years.

Although Chennai faced its worst water crisis in 2019, civic officials claim the city is comfortably placed this summer because of the complete lockdown in the wake of COVID-19, which, in turn, has reduced industrial usage of water.

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