Quantcast

India’s Sixth-Largest City Is Almost Out of Water

Popular
In this photo taken on June 20, Indian worker carry the last bit of water from a small pond in the dried-out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. ARUN SANKAR / AFP / Getty Images

As much of India bakes in a deadly heat wave, the country's sixth largest city is running out of water, Time reported Thursday.


In Chennai, home to nearly 4.6 million people, four major reservoirs are running dry. The monsoon has been delayed, and rainfall has fallen 99 percent in the region from June 1 to 19, while temperatures have reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We are facing one of the worst water shortages in recent years. The water situation has been very bad for the last month. And it will be worse if there is no rain in the coming days," Chennai resident Rajasimhan told BBC News. "There is no water through the taps."

A weaker monsoon season in South Asia is one of the predicted outcomes of the climate crisis, Al Jazeera reported. The entire region has seen below average rainfall for the last five years. In southern Tamil Nadu, the state where Chennai is located, monsoon rains were 62 percent below normal last year. They were also weak in 2017, leading to a depletion of groundwater and the drying out of four major lakes: Chembarambakkam, Poondi, Red Hills and Cholavaram. Dramatic satellite images from Maxar show the depletion of Lake Puzhal, the city's largest reservoir, between June of 2018 and 2019, CNN reported.

State fisheries minister D Jayakumar told Al Jazeera that the government was moving approximately 400 water tankers on 9,000 trips across the city to help the thirsty population.

But the water is not coming fast enough for some. At least 550 people were arrested Wednesday at a demonstration outside the municipal building of Coimbatore, CNN reported. They held empty water containers and accused the government of mismanagement.

There have also been reports of fighting over water and of water trucks being hijacked, CNN reported.

There is some temporary relief in store for Chennai. There were reports of rain on Thursday, but the Indian Meteorological Department told CNN it would not relieve the drought.

"Unfortunately this is forecast to be light to moderate rain and the reservoirs are almost dry. So, this won't help in replenishment but will just give respite from the heat," the department said. "The proper rain to fill up the reservoirs isn't expected until November."

Due to a combination of climate change and mismanagement, India overall is facing the worst water crisis in its history. A report from a government think tank released in 2018 found that 200,000 Indians die each year from lack of access to water and demand would double supply by 2030.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mapping Urban Heat through Portland State University / video

Concrete and asphalt absorb the sun's energy. So when a heat wave strikes, city neighborhoods with few trees and lots of black pavement can get hotter than other areas — a lot hotter.

Read More
Pexels

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning your body can't produce it. Yet, it has many roles and has been linked to impressive health benefits.

Read More
Sponsored
The Rio San Antonio, in the headwaters basin of the Rio Grande in New Mexico, will lose federal protections under a new rule. Bob Wick / BLM California

By Tara Lohan

The Santa Fe River starts high in the forests of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains and flows 46 miles to the Rio Grande. Along the way it plays important roles for wildlife, irrigation, recreation and other cultural uses, and provides 40 percent of the water supply for the city of Santa Fe's 85,000 residents.

Read More
Climate activists protest Chase Bank's continued funding of the fossil fuel industry on May 16, 2019 by setting up a tripod-blockade in midtown Manhattan, clogging traffic for over an hour. Michael Nigro / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Julia Conley

Climate campaigners on Friday expressed hope that policymakers who are stalling on taking decisive climate action would reconsider their stance in light of new warnings from an unlikely source: two economists at J.P. Morgan Chase.

Read More
Protesters holding signs in solidarity with the Wet'suwet'en Nation outside the Canadian Consulate in NYC. The Indigenous Peoples Day NYC Committee (IPDNYC), a coalition of 13 Indigenous Peoples and indigenous-led organizations gathered outside the Canadian Consulate and Permanent Mission to the UN to support the Wet'suwet'en Nation in their opposition to a Coastal GasLink pipeline scheduled to enter their traditional territory in British Columbia, Canada. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

Tensions are continuing to rise in Canada over a controversial pipeline project as protesters enter their 12th day blockading railways, demonstrating on streets and highways, and paralyzing the nation's rail system

Read More