Video Editor: Varun Sharma
Cameraperson & Producer: Smitha TK
I am Saroja. I live in Badrikarai, Kodambakkam High Road in Chennai with my husband and grandson. The water problem is severe in the area. Earlier, we would get water at least for two hours a day, now we don’t get water even for 20 minutes. Moreover, that water is very muddy and it even stinks. There is no rain and if the government doesn’t provide water, I don't know what we will do.
After going to the metro water office several times, we have convinced them to send us a water tanker. But water lorries come on alternate days and one isn't enough for so many people living here. Over 500 houses, including huts and housing board are in the vicinity.
We fill up 15 buckets when the tanker comes because we won't get water the next day. We have to use this water for 3 days to bathe, wash clothes and wash utensils. We carefully use the water and don’t use much.
The hand pump here was broken and only a month back the officials came and repaired it. So, you can pump even here, but what about those who are old and can’t pump water themselves? They wait for the lorry. More so, the pump is shared by all the people living here.
That is not the only problem. If the lorry comes or we need to pump water, we need to go to the main road to fetch water and walk the entire distance. The lanes are narrow and winding and is very difficult. Sometimes the lorry comes at night 10 pm, but even in that darkness we have no option but to carry the water all the way home.
Do you know what’s the first thing children do when they come back from school? Run to fill up as many pots as possible! Everyone is always thinking of water.
Now the government has asked us to relocate from here, the centre of the city, where we have lived all our lives, to a farther location. They have built houses in Chemmenchery and Kannagi Nagar and many people who wanted to move to a more dignified place, shifted. But soon they all returned because the quarters allotted are very far from the city.
Jobs are important, right? Only if we have the money we can earn and eat. What is the point going there if we can't make a livelihood?
Right outside our house, this dirty water is flowing. It is not any pollutants or discharge from factories. All this is the water we use to bathe, wash utensils, wash clothes. We have asked them (the government) to clean this or close this or build a wall, but they haven't done anything.
What do we want? Patta (deed) to this land, cleaner surroundings and most importantly, a tap to be installed near our house – even if we get water only alternate days, it will be very useful.
(As told to Smitha TK)
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