Tahsildar seizes tankers extracting water illegally in Chennai area

Chennai: It’’s inevitable to say that waterbodies in Madipakkam and surrounding neighourhoods will soon be among very few sources of drinking water to Chennaiites, as Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) is planning to tap stored rain water from reservoirs in Nanmangalam Reserve Forest.

But even before the government could quench the thirst of city residents, private tanker lorrys are in the process of extracting water illegally from wells that are present in private lands near the forest. They are selling them for very high prices to households. Thanks to Sholinganallur Tahsildar Nirmala, the racket has finally been busted.

Nirmala paid a surprise visit to Kovilambakkam on 14 January and was successfully able to seize two tanker lorries. Because it was a government holiday, the tankers were clueless about her visit, said people in the know.

The incident happened when they were illegally extracting water from a well at the 200-feet Radial Road in Kovilambakkam. Residents alleged that the tankers were earning profits up to Rs 2 lakh every month selling water while commoners were reeling under severe water scarcity.

Speaking to News Today, Guberan, a resident of Kovilambakkam, said, ‘I was not at the spot when the incident happened, but I highly appreciate the Tahsildar’s surprise move. Most of these tankers operate in the wee hours which made it difficult for officials to nab them all this while.

No one here opposes water extraction. There are a lot of waterbodies outside the city like Maduranthangam and Chengalpet which are good sources of drinking water. Just that the tankers will incur a little bit extra transportation cost. But considering the plight of thousands of city residents, can’t they bear that?’

Residents stated that the owner of the well, one Doss, had abused the residents who complained to the Tahsildar earlier. Residents alleged that he has been allowing illegal water extraction for over 15 years now.

The lorries have been handed over to Pallikaranai Police Station and a police complaint has been filed against Doss. Sholinganallur Tahsildar is awaiting action from the Revenue Divisional Officer who has the authority to slap a fine or take things further against the offenders.

Officials are also in the process of disconnecting the power supply to Doss’ water pump by informing the matter to Tamilnadu Electricity Board (TNEB). They are planning to seal the well if extraction continues in the future. With the tankers stationed at Pallikarani Police Station, it seems water tanker associations are planning a strike if police do not release the two lorries.

NT Bureau