Community action, ecological action

Weather Gods innocent. Apathy of civic authorities to blame for drought like conditions in Nilgiris

Coonoor residents protest against water shortages (Photo: The Hindu)

Coonoor residents protest against water shortages (Photo: The Hindu)

The anguish and suffering of the residents of Coonoor municipal area grows by the day.  For over two years now, the supply of water has been erratic and much lower than the 90 Liters per person per day requirement.  The past few months have been particularly harsh.  A lack of long term planning and vision, shoddy implementation of ongoing water supply and storage projects and total apathy of the civic authorities towards the suffering of the people are to blame for the current drought like conditions.  This brief note aims not to give a gentle reminder to our authorities of the dismal situation but rather a hard knock to wake them up and seek immediate action.

The demand of water in the municipal region is estimated at around 4.7 Mil Litres daily  which is quite simply a multiple of the population and an “estimated”  requirement of  90 Litres per capita daily (LCPD) plus 15% distribution wastage.  Without challenging the estimated requirement per person per day, we move on to the supply side.

The main water sources for Coonoor Municipal area are 2 dams viz., Raliah and Bandumi and 10 stream sources, viz., Bellattimattam, Brooklands, Gymkhana, Karadipallam, Adar, Highfield, Upputhotti, Old Forest, Engledane and  Attadi. Water is stored in 4 tanks and distributed through 4924 domestic and 387 non-domestic connections.  Additionally 221 public taps are installed. Here is where the problem lies. Not only are there structural imbalances in the supply, storage and distribution of the system, most of it has been under capacity enhancement or maintenance for the past 2 years.   After a proposal by consultants M/S Wilbur Smith Pvt Ltd to improve water supply to Coonoor municipal region at a cost of Rs 13.8 Cr, a proposal was made and accorded administrative sanction vide G.O. (D) No 85 MA & WS (MA2 Dept Dt. 21/02/2011) and work order issued by Chief Engineer, Coimbatore on 03.01.2012 to M/S Megha Engineering & Infrastructure Ltd, Hyderabad with a completion date of 04/2013.  The project envisaged increasing the water holding capacity of Raliah (supplying over 65% of water to Coonoor), significantly enhancing the WTP capacity at Gray’s Hill and increasing the distribution pipelines from 44.8 km to 67.3.  Well, none of the components of the project are complete even 1 year after the deadline and there is no explanation whatsoever from our authorities.  The Raliah is completely dry, the  new Guernsey pipeline laid and already in disrepair and the Gray’s Hill WTP not up and running to capacity. The project was to be completed before the SW monsoon 2013. In all probability, the final commissioning may miss the NE Monsoon 2014 and the suffering of the people will continue well into 2015.

The dredged Raliah Dam (Photo: The Hindu)

The dredged Raliah Dam (Photo: The Hindu)

It is high time that the Coonoor Municipal Authority and specifically the Commissioner, provides an immediate and clear explanation as to the current status of water availability from various sources, planned daily distribution and the actual final commissioning dates of upgraded water system.

We are tired of the blame being passed on to the weather Gods and seeing little action to alleviate the plight of the residents of Coonoor.   Incidentally, as this is being written the pre-monsoon rainfall in Nilgiris has been declared as normal

For further information please contact

Raminder Chowdhary







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