Chennai, India, is Running Out of Drinking Water

June 26, 2019

India’s Puzhal Lake has shrunk significantly since June 2018

India’s sixth-largest city, Chennai, is almost out of water. According to NPR, residents are waiting in lines that span city blocks, and restaurants are turning away customers. A man was killed in a fight over water. The city is moving more toward Day Zero, much like Cape Town, South Africa, in 2018.

The water in Chennai has not been flowing at all, according to NPR. The Indian government has placed water tankers in multiple residential areas to provide aid. However, some areas have been affected so hard residents have resorted to moving in with relatives or friends in other areas of India. 

According to NPR, Puzhal Lake has shrunk since June 2018. Pictures taken one year apart on Twitter show that.

"It's shocking but not surprising," said Tarun Gopalakrishnan, a climate change expert at the Centre for Science and Environment, to NPR. The water crisis is the result of "a toxic mix of bad governance and climate change," he said.

According to The Independent, all of the city’s primary reserves are almost dry. This means four million people are dependent on non-potable water collected from makeshift wells. Also, the Chennai Metro Water has cut its water use by 40%. 

The Indian government was criticized for relying on a monsoon’s arrival instead of taking immediate action, according to The Independent. The monsoon was delayed, leaving millions without water and leading to heat waves, which killed hundreds.  

Chennai also has poor urban development, therefore they are not using recycled water or collecting rainwater, according to The Independent