Abu Dhabi/Dubai - All four reservoirs serving Chennai had mostly dried up as of June 2019.
UAE residents hailing from Chennai are worried about the well-being of their family and friends back home who are reeling under acute water crisis that has severely hit the south Indian city. Expressing their disappointment, some expats have blamed poor planning by government bodies and political apathy behind the distressing water woes.
Najeer Ahmed, a resident of Abu Dhabi, had to recently move his family from Chennai to his native village due to the water scarcity. He fears Chennai might become "the first city in India to run out of water". "Chennai stares at a grave situation. I have relocated my family from Chennai city to my village in Thoothukudi district."
Suggesting a remedy, he pointed out that authorities should focus on rainwater harvesting to tide over the crisis.
"J. Jayalalithaa, the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, had made it mandatory for all buildings to have rainwater harvesting facility but none have done so. Also, there are no new reservoirs," he lamented.
According to media reports in India, all four reservoirs serving Chennai had mostly dried up as of June 2019, with storage only about one-hundredth of the levels recorded during the same time the previous year.
Uma Madhumohan, a Dubai resident and housewife who was born and raised in Chennai, said: "Our house is in Indiranagar, Adyar, while my brother stays at Kottupuram. The families which have borewells have been able to sustain themselves. However, there is a fear that the water is contaminated." Uma added that the plants in her neighbourhood are dying. "Plants and livestock have been affected by the water scarcity. We are praying that the rains in Kerala come to Tamil Nadu."
'Leaders playing politics'Revathy Anand, who recently moved to Abu Dhabi from New Zealand, is undecided about her first vacation to her native town Chennai. "The water situation has been bad for sometime now but heavy rains lashed parts of the city recently. A good monsoon should improve things. But we are still in a predicament whether to go there or put the trip on hold."
She criticised Tamil Nadu government for declining water offered by the neighbouring state of Kerala. She said: "Our leaders are playing politics even as the water crisis has assumed a monstrous proportion."
Mubarak Ali, another Abu Dhabi resident, said that the situation has turned worse over the years due to felling of trees on a large scale. "Our politicians of the state wrongly blame Kerala and Karnataka for not releasing water, while the fault lies in their ill management of water."
Ali said the Tamil Nadu government is concerned about prosperity of the corporate houses and doesn't bother about the welfare of the common man. "Canned water bottle is a thriving business in Chennai. Liquor companies and soft drinks manufacturers have constant supply of water. There was a media expose which revealed that politicians were getting tankers of freshwater to their homes. Big corporates and politicians enjoy all facilities whereas the common man is left to fend for himself."
A Dubai resident, Sharmila Raviraj, who hails from Avadi in Chennai, said: "Our home has access to a borewell, so we are safe. However, families living under the poverty line are struggling. Despite the borewell, there are chances the water extracted is not safe for consumption. I feel the next generation in Chennai will not have a single drop of water."
Sharmila said her family had survived the 2010 Laila cyclone and they had also braved the floods that took place on June 16, 2015. "Today, the city has no water."