Chennai's growth threatened by water shortages
By Live Mint 07-Aug-2019
In Chennai, a coastal city of about 10 million, rapid development and rampant construction have overtaxed a once-abundant natural water supply, forcing the government to spend huge sums to desalinate sea water, bring water by train from hundreds of kilometers (miles) away and deploy an army of water trucks to people whose household taps have suddenly run dry.
The water shortfall is disrupting business at all levels, from the gleaming, 45-kilometer (28-mile) IT Corridor to the neighborhood tea shop. Some workers have been asked not to report to the office while others have had to give up a day’s wages to wait for the erratic water truck that makes daily deliveries.
The Madras Chamber of Commerce said that results from a survey sent to its 700 members in May found that most industries in the city’s diversified economy have been affected by the crisis, which has caused disruptions in production schedules, higher operation costs and a reluctance to invest in expansion because of the uncertainty about future water supplies.
Companies are paying 30% more for private supplies sourced from farther outside Chennai and delivered by water tankers, which require dedicated workers to manage. Others have set up their own water-recycling systems, said chamber Secretary-General K. Saraswathi.
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