There is urban water and there is rural water but an intriguing question is how much of rural water actually reaches rural hands ?
If there is an urban crisis there is an equal or worse rural consequence made of an urban desire to quench.
Chennai, with a coastline that stretches about 26 kms along India’s east, is among the first Indian cities to depend on desalination for most of its water needs.
One such village is Sureli Kattakuppam , about 35 kms south of urban Chennai, who's water needs this village pays for.
A desalination plant was established by the government under the control of Chennai Metrowater in 2013 off the Bay of Bengal on the shores of this fishing village depriving it of its basic connect with the ocean, a clean ocean they worship for its survival and sanity.
Sureli Kattakuppam reels under a turbulent past struck by a devastating Tsunami in 2004 and the opening of the Nemmeli desalination plant along the east coast road as their intimidating big brother next door that has a capacity to treat 100 million litres of seawater a day!
The villagers were promised jobs at the plant and some did get to work there for a short time before understanding the ill effects of the reverse osmosis technique that the plant employed which sucked in saline water from the sea but in return pumped back highly saline toxic water automatically depleting and affecting marine ecology around the village which had an adverse affect on their livelihood.
Every few days hoards of hazardous disc filters and ultra filtration membranes that are used to remove the suspended solids in the seawater are dumped behind the village on a piece of land that would be cherished for its sports activities before becoming an irresponsibly convenient toxic waste dump for the plant.
The plants activities have contaminated ground water sources of the village which was once fit for drinking but today they need to buy a Jerry can of water almost every day for INR. 60 for their drinking purposes.
The fight seemed daunting but villagers protested and the intimidation from the plant authorities began with false cases slapped against some of the villagers who were forced into jail for 21 to 40 days for which the fight goes on till date!
After all this they still wait for a single drop of "clean" water to come their way...
These interventions bring relief to a parched Chennai but at what cost?