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Frightening Reality of Parched Chennai: Millions at Risk as the City Runs Out of Water

India | AFP | July 1, 2019, 3:25 pm
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 Chennai has been in the global spotlight since its four main reservoirs dried up earlier this month, largely because of poor monsoons in 2018, forcing residents to ration the use of water. (Image: AP)

Chennai has been in the global spotlight since its four main reservoirs dried up earlier this month, largely because of poor monsoons in 2018, forcing residents to ration the use of water. (Image: AP)

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 All four reservoirs that supply Chennai, known as the Detroit of South Asia for its flourishing automobile industry, have run dry this summer, largely because of poor monsoon rains last year. Chennai is one of 21 cities that a government think-tank warned last year could run out of groundwater by 2020. This year's monsoon is delayed, further compounding problems across a swath of western and central India. Water storage levels in the city's four major reservoirs were one-hundredth of what they were this time last year — and at a mere 0.2% of capacity, according to state government data.<br /><br />Poondi reservoir, one of the major water sources for the residents of Chennai, has gone bone dry due to acute water shortage in the city. Several sectors, including IT and hospitality, have been hit, forcing them to scale back operations. (Image: PTI)

All four reservoirs that supply Chennai, known as the Detroit of South Asia for its flourishing automobile industry, have run dry this summer, largely because of poor monsoon rains last year. Chennai is one of 21 cities that a government think-tank warned last year could run out of groundwater by 2020. This year's monsoon is delayed, further compounding problems across a swath of western and central India. Water storage levels in the city's four major reservoirs were one-hundredth of what they were this time last year — and at a mere 0.2% of capacity, according to state government data.

Poondi reservoir, one of the major water sources for the residents of Chennai, has gone bone dry due to acute water shortage in the city. Several sectors, including IT and hospitality, have been hit, forcing them to scale back operations. (Image: PTI)

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 People stand in queues to fill vessels filled with drinking water from a water tanker in Chennai. (Image: AP)

People stand in queues to fill vessels filled with drinking water from a water tanker in Chennai. (Image: AP)

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 People stand in queues to fill vessels filled with drinking water from a water tanker in Chennai. (Image: AP)

People stand in queues to fill vessels filled with drinking water from a water tanker in Chennai. (Image: AP)

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 A boy stands by the dried-up puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AP)

A boy stands by the dried-up puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AP)

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 People wait to fill vessels filled with drinking water from a water tanker in Chennai. (Image: AP)

People wait to fill vessels filled with drinking water from a water tanker in Chennai. (Image: AP)

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 Shepherds walk with their livestock on dried-up areas of puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AP)

Shepherds walk with their livestock on dried-up areas of puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AP)

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 People with their vessels wait for the opening of draw of lots to fetch water from a community well at Eswari Nagar in Chennai. While IT companies have informally allowed employees to work from home, restaurants have taken lunch meals off the menu as they say it's more water-consuming. (Image: PTI)

People with their vessels wait for the opening of draw of lots to fetch water from a community well at Eswari Nagar in Chennai. While IT companies have informally allowed employees to work from home, restaurants have taken lunch meals off the menu as they say it's more water-consuming. (Image: PTI)

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 People sitting in the shade of a measuring tower at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. According to local media reports, four major reservoirs around Chennai have under 30 mcft of water though their total storage capacity is more than 11,000 mcft. (Image: AFP)

People sitting in the shade of a measuring tower at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. According to local media reports, four major reservoirs around Chennai have under 30 mcft of water though their total storage capacity is more than 11,000 mcft. (Image: AFP)

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 A man searching for fish in a last bit of water in the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

A man searching for fish in a last bit of water in the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

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 People chosen after a draw of lots collect water from a community well at Eswari Nagar in Chennai. (Image: PTI)

People chosen after a draw of lots collect water from a community well at Eswari Nagar in Chennai. (Image: PTI)

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 Women fetch water from an opening made by residents at a dried-up lake in Chennai. (Image: Reuters)

Women fetch water from an opening made by residents at a dried-up lake in Chennai. (Image: Reuters)

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 A view of dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

A view of dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

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 People are chosen through draw of lots to collect water from a community well at Eswari Nagar in Pallavaram municipality, Chennai. (Image: PTI)

People are chosen through draw of lots to collect water from a community well at Eswari Nagar in Pallavaram municipality, Chennai. (Image: PTI)

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 Shepherds walk with their livestock at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

Shepherds walk with their livestock at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

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 A man shows fish that are believed to have died in the drying Lake Thiruneermalai due to lack of rainfall, in Chennai. (Image: PTI)

A man shows fish that are believed to have died in the drying Lake Thiruneermalai due to lack of rainfall, in Chennai. (Image: PTI)

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 Shepherd walks with livestock at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. Many establishments like guesthouses and hostels have suspended operations temporarily due to water crunch in Triplicane. (Image: AFP)

Shepherd walks with livestock at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. Many establishments like guesthouses and hostels have suspended operations temporarily due to water crunch in Triplicane. (Image: AFP)

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 People chosen after draw of lots collect water from a community well at Eswari Nagar in Pallavaram municipality, Chennai. (Image: PTI)

People chosen after draw of lots collect water from a community well at Eswari Nagar in Pallavaram municipality, Chennai. (Image: PTI)

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 Shepherds walk with their livestock at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

Shepherds walk with their livestock at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

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 A measuring tower at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

A measuring tower at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

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 People looking for mud crabs and fish in a last bit of water in the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

People looking for mud crabs and fish in a last bit of water in the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

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 Shepherds walk with their livestock at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

Shepherds walk with their livestock at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: AFP)

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 Fish that are believed to have died in the drying Lake Thiruneermalai due to lack of rainfall, in Chennai. (Image: PTI)

Fish that are believed to have died in the drying Lake Thiruneermalai due to lack of rainfall, in Chennai. (Image: PTI)

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 People sitting in the shade of a measuring tower at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: PTI)

People sitting in the shade of a measuring tower at the dried out Puzhal reservoir on the outskirts of Chennai. (Image: PTI)

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