India – Public wells turn into garbage dumps
CHENNAI: Many public wells in the southern suburbs of Chennai, once the most important source of drinking water for hundreds of residents, are now a picture of neglect with several of them becoming mini garbage dumping yards.
Long before piped water supply, public fountains or street corner tanks became popular, such wells were the only source of water for consumption and cooking. But today, civic bodies have ignored these crucial amenities that perennially supplied pure water.
Some of the wells are nothing more than garbage mounds with residents and traders conveniently using them to dispose of refuse from houses and shops. A case in point is that of the public well on Sengani Amman Koil Street in Madipakkam. About ten years ago, when the State government gave a major impetus to rainwater harvesting, the well was one of those selected by the Kancheepuram district administration as a “roadside rainwater harvesting structure.”
Residents of Sengani Amman Koil Street and Kakkan Street recalled that the well, from which they were drawing water for several years, was developed impressively on its selection as a roadside rainwater harvesting structure. As a result, the level and quality of water improved.
Over the years, the maintenance of the well was not done properly, resulting in the well becoming a garbage dumping pit. Even accumulation of garbage several feet above the well’s surface has not prompted the Madipakkam panchayat administration to react, residents complained.
A public well near the Sembakkam bus stop is in ruins, another behind the market near New Colony in Chromepet is no better. A public well on Velachery Main Road in Selaiyur that was used by a few hundred families was filled up by the State Highways Department in July last year following a court order.
While there are still some wells from which people continue to draw water, including one near the East Tambaram bus stand, many of the facilities were nothing more than an eyesore, say residents. In areas where elaborate and foolproof supply of drinking water through pipelines is absent, public wells and hand pumps could help bridge the gap, but for that to happen local bodies should accord them priority, said K.Santhosh, a Madipakkam resident.