Madipakkam residents lock up roadside Metro tanks fearing water theft at night

One of the many Metro water tanks of Madipakkam that have been locked to prevent water theft at night.

Chennai: People are losing sleep in the city over water. Especially, the residents of Madipakkam. So, they designed a peculiar system not to lose precious sleep for the precious commodity of the present times.

Madipakkam residents are supplied Metro water through huge plastic tanks set up on the roads. They allege that people ‘steal’ the water at night. Solution? They have locked the taps to prevent the theft.

It is a common sight in Madipakkam to find almost all water tanks – except a few – locked up as people allege that local tea shops and hotels steal the water. They say that the water in the tanks are only for domestic use and not commercial purposes.

A resident of Barathi Dhasan Street in the area said, “Most of the times, these tanks are locked and the keys are given to one or two households on the street. People, whenever in need of water, get the key and draw water. But, mostly every time, the tank becomes empty within an hour or two after being filled as there are more than 300 to 350 families that depend on this tank. Not more than 100 families get this water as the amount of water supplied and the number of families in this area, is out of proportion.”

Another resident of Karthikeyapuram Erikarai Street, who requested anonymity, said, “I have seen a lot of people coming in autos and cars to fetch buckets of water from Ram Nagar and Keelkattalai. But the problem is people who own roadside eateries and teashops take water at night in more than 10 buckets to run their business. We all know that this water is strictly not for commercial purposes.”

He pointed out that there are more than 200 families living in this street and depend on the tank. Also people from other places take two or three buckets of water from here, as there is no water near their residence.

“All these people get affected because of these shopkeepers who take water in large quantities to run their business. We can’t keep an eye on the tank every night and shoo them away,” he reasoned.

Seeni Sethuraman, a resident of Karthikeyapuram, was of a different view. “It is extremely unfair to lock these water tanks that are installed for the benefit of the public. Water is common for all. A lot of people don’t get water when they need because these tanks are locked by the residents of a particular street. Though most of the residents are happy with this system of locking the public water tank, there are many people who misuse it. In a few areas, some people claim priority in taking water as they are the ones who have paid for the lock.”

He added, “In Sabari Salai, I was shocked to see that a group of residents was drawing water from these tanks and storing it in their apartment’s sump. When I confronted them, they tried to bluff their way out. Such activities should be curbed at the earliest. I have raised a complaint regarding this and hope they take immediate action.”

A Metro water official, who requested anonymity, said, “We know that a few tanks are locked by the residents to avoid water theft at night and for the benefit of the residents. But, we have not received any formal complaint saying that there is problem in distribution because of these locked tanks. If we receive such complaints, we will take action at the earliest.”


M Anandavalli