India Matters – Chennai and Water Scarcity

This section addresses relevant issues and facts about different parts of India through the 6Ws and 1H question answer format.

Chennai and Water Scarcity:

Why is water such a problem in Chennai?
When was the worst water shortage Chennai faced?
Where does Chennai get its water from?
What are rain water and grey water harvesting?
Who are Sekhar Raghavan and Indukanth Ragade?
Which new sources of water are being tapped this year?
How can we help conserve water?
Why is water such a problem in Chennai?
Chennai depends totally on ground water, small lakes, tanks and reservoirs. These sources are mostly replenished by the north-east monsoon. If the rains fail, the sources could dry up. Also, because of the growing population, demand for water has increased but supply has reduced as water bodies are being encroached on for construction purposes. The water sources need to be maintained, and this isn’t being done well enough.
When was the worst water shortage Chennai faced?
Chennai faced very severe water shortage three times in recent years – in 2000, 2004 and 2017. The situation is expected to be hard in 2019 too.
Where does Chennai get its water from?
The city needs an estimated 830 million litres of water a day. The main reservoirs supplying it are Chembarambakkam, Poondi, Red Hills and Cholavaram. The Telugu-Ganga project, which brings water from the Krishna river in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, and de-salination plants contribute to drinking water requirements.
What are rain water and grey water harvesting?
Rain water harvesting refers to ways of collecting rain water so that it can be used when needed later. Grey water is used water generated from homes (other than water from toilets). This can be collected and re-used, mostly for irrigation.
Who are Sekhar Raghavan and Indukanth Ragade?
Sekhar Raghavan campaigned hard for rainwater harvesting (RWH). His efforts prompted the then Chief Minister, Ms. J Jayalalithaa, to make RWH compulsory for all buildings in Chennai, making it the first Indian city to have such a rule. Indukanth Ragade was in the forefront of RWH and waste water management projects in Chennai. Both are involved with the Akash Ganga Trust and its Rain Centre which provides information and help on RWH and other water issues.
Which new sources of water are being tapped this year?
The State Government is planning to draw water from quarries and farm wells, carry water from the Mettur Dam to the Veeranam Lake which supplies Chennai, and dig new wells to maintain a reasonable supply of water to the city during the summer of 2019.
How can we help conserve water?
Here are 3 ideas: • Don’t keep the tap on as you brush your teeth. Open it only when you need water. • Use a bucket instead of the shower for a bath, and stand in a tub to collect the water you pour over yourself. Use it to flush toilets. • Collect water used to wash vegetables, rice, dal etc. and water plants with it.
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