Monday, May 9, 2011

Tanker owners cash in on water scarcity

Tanker owners cash in on water scarcity

Story Summary: 
Many parts of the state are facing water scarcity and contractors supplying water through tankers are cashing on this situation as the demand for water tankers has increased.

PANAJI: Many parts of the state are facing water scarcity and contractors supplying water through tankers are cashing on this situation as the demand for water tankers has increased tremendously over the last couple of weeks.
However, experts and officials have raised concern over the safety of water supplied through tankers.
Poor sewage connections and the groundwater table coming in contact with effluents from industrial waste, besides the poor garbage disposal system, could contaminate the water supplied by tankers, which could have health implications.
Usually, the water tanker contractors draw the water from wells, tube wells, water bodies like ponds and supply it not only for domestic consumption but also to the industry putting tremendous stress on the groundwater table.
It is learnt that contractors are also reselling the water supplied by the PWD. In the past, the PWD tried to put a check on this illegal activity by withdrawing public taps from several parts of the state.
Investigations have revealed that water from water bodies at Sangolda and Saligao are pumped into the tankers and is mostly supplied to the residents of Porvorim, while the water, collected from wells and ponds from Quelossim, Verna (near church), Cansaulim,  is supplied to the Verna industrial estate, Vasco, and parts of Loutolim.
Mr R Naik, (name changed) who is closely associated with water supplying through tankers, said the demand for water supplied by private tankers has increased tremendously. As the summer is approaching, there has been a close to 50 to 60 per cent increase in the number of trips made to supply water. He informed that the water supplied by a tanker in a trip costs around Rs 800 to Rs 1300 depending on the distance.
When asked if any special measures like water treatment etc are being taken, Mr Naik said there is no time to treat the water -- it is directly drawn from the wells through pumps. He said that mostly wells are taken on lease and the water is pumped into the tankers.
Raising concern over the safety of water supplied through the tankers, noted scientist, Dr Nandkumar Kamat said that there are very stringent rules laid down by the government to check the quality of drinking water and the directorate of health is the nodal agency to monitor the quality of drinking water. There are certain specifications that have to be met to declare the water fit for drinking.
He said the directorate is also empowered to take periodical samples of water to check its quality and added that that these measures are not being followed adding that the well water in Goa is not tested for any contamination.
He observed that the water supplied through tankers could be “dangerous” due to spread of some unknown diseases as the tankers are not cleaned properly.  This could lead to a lot of health complications and could even affect pregnant women, Dr Kamat stated.
Senior health department officials on condition of anonymity admitted that the water supplied through tankers is not always safe and often contaminated water is supplied. He said the department is taking periodical tests of water samples. However, the contractors claim that the water supplied by them is not for domestic consumption, but for construction and washing purpose. The officials said that each sample collected by them, the department has to spend around Rs 1200 to carry out the tests.
A resident from Porvorim, Ms A Desai rued that the PWD water supply has been irregular so they fall back upon water supplied by private tankers. She said, “At the back of our minds we have the fear of water being possibly contaminated. However, we cannot live without water,” she said adding that on many occasions the water had a peculiar odour.
Smelling a rat over poor water supply by the PWD, Mr C Dias from Porvorim said the whole thing reeks of a nexus between the government and the contractors supplying water. The government has built a massive overhead tank at Povorim, which is yet to be functional.
“For some months now we have to depend on water tankers; be it the ones provided by the government or the private tankers,” he said.
Mr Dias said the PWD tankers sometimes take even two day to reach your doorstep, while the private tankers reach within couple of hours. There is no water in the taps either hence we are left with no option but to fall back upon private tankers which have been charging exorbitant rates,” he said.
A resident also from Taleigao, Mr C Fernandes said that they too are facing water shortage as a result they resort to purchasing water from tankers. He, however, said that they use the tanker water only for washing and bathing, while they use packaged drinking water for their daily consumption.

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