Every day, thousands of Chennai residents line up daily to fill cans of water from water tankers across the city. And these queues continue to grow by the day with the city’s water resource drying up at an alarming pace.
Chennai has become the first major Indian city to face an acute water shortage, and the situation is only worsening with each passing day. In fact, doctors and surgeons from the reputed hospitals in the city are compelled to buy water to carry out surgeries and other medical procedures.
Dr. Ravisankar, chairman of Sudar hospitals in Tambaram told TOI that they have left the situation to the “mercy of God”. This certainly shows how the conditions have worsened in the city. Dr. Ravishankar said, “The cost escalation will have to be passed on to patients, who will have to spend more. If the situation continues, after a month we won’t be able to serve patients.”
The hospitals have said that they have somehow managed to buy water from the tankers by far, but the skyrocketing prices of water would soon make them raise the hospital service fees for the patients. This would, in turn, create financial trouble for many patients in the city. On average, a hospital with 30 beds in Chennai is spending anywhere from Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 a day on the water as the supply of piped water has diminished.
“That would mean up to Rs 4.5 lakh a month. It is impossible to absorb that loss every month. We will have to pass it on to our patients,” Dr. Ravisankar told TOI.
A hospital uses gallons of water to keep the floor, equipment, and surroundings clean and sterile. The severe water crisis has made all this almost non-achievable in the past few months in the city.
They have, however, been taking steps like putting save water signs on the taps, fixing the leakages of water pipes in the hospital and so on. Hospitals spend around 200 liters of water on patients who undergo dialysis. Doctors say that 50% of the city’s water isn’t safe for medical use. Moreover, the southern states have received 30% less rainfall than the normal levels.
“Right now, there’s an emergency so the government is bringing water by trains,” Ravishankar said referring to supplies that are typically reserved for drinking water instead of hospitals. “But beyond this? It’s all left to nature,” he added.
Notably, the national capital has also experienced the worst monsoon delay in 45 years. Only less than a fifth of Delhi homes are availing piped water supply.
The acute water shortage has emerged as an after effect of climate change. Water, lately, has emerged as a serious economic risk in Asia’s third-largest economy. As per a report by India’s environment ministry, India has suffered about 2.54% of the gross domestic product in 2014-15 due to desertification, land degradation, and drought
We need to wake up earlier before it’s become too late to think!