After a strike that lasted from morning to evening, sending residents of gated communities and the commercial establishments along Old Mahabalipuram Road to scramble for water, the private tanker operators called off the protest following assurance from the State government that they would be issued three-month temporary licence before granting permanent licence to draw groundwater.
This strike put the people, including residents and shops, along OMR, who are dependent on supply from private tanker lorries, in a quandary. “There are around four lakh houses along the Old Mahabalipuram Road, all of whom are dependent on private tankers in the absence of piped supply from Metro Water,” said Harsha Koda, coordinator of Federation of OMR Resident Associations (FOMRRA).
He urged the government to ensure that there was no hindrance in the supply of water by private water tankers until the Metro Water supplies piped water to the residents. Already struggling to ensure the necessary supply, the State government held a meeting with the leaders of the Association at the Secretariat, after which the tanker owners agreed to call off the strike.
“In the meeting, we demanded the government to issue licenses to tanker lorry operators to tap groundwater. The officials agreed to issue temporary licenses to lorry owners for three months, before issuing permanent licenses. The government also agreed to issue licenses to tanker lorries being operated in other districts,” N Nijalingam, president, Tamil Nadu Private Tanker Operators Association, said.
According to Nijalingam, 12,000 private tanker lorries are being operated in the State, of which nearly 4,500 are operated in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts. “Our members will apply for the licence in coming days,” he said, adding that they have resumed operation from Wednesday evening itself.