A crisis breaks out
the capital city of Kerala welcomed the new year with an unexpected and prolonged water shortage caused by the bursting of a pipeline on January 2. One of the main lines supplying drinking water to Thiruvananthapuram gave way at Kumi, 15 km away. Apart from 30 m of this pipeline, an adjacent new one was also washed away. A section of the ground caved in and disrupted traffic.
The authorities were caught totally off guard and were least prepared to handle the crisis. Although they assured that normal supply would be restored within two days, it finally happened only on January 8.
The crisis focusses attention on the mismanagement of traditional sources of water in the city. Earlier, wells were widely tapped. But these are now thought to be receptacles of contaminated water. This, coupled with the outbreaks of malaria in Thiruvananthapuram, have compelled the people to abandon them. The city corporation may opt for the installation of new wells at selected sites in an effort to counter the water crisis expected this summer.
The city is not new to water shortages, which are particularly pronounced in summer. The crises arise partly due to inadequacy of water supply, which has not been able to cope with the rise in the city's population from six lakh in 1991 to 10 lakh in 1997.