Plea to monitor water supply from Hogenakkal project in Tamil Nadu

DHARMAPURI: residents are raising concerns over the quality of drinking water supplied from the Hogenakkal Drinking Water and Fluorosis Mitigation Project (HDWFMP). As summer approaches, they urge the administration to regulate the water supply and address the issue of fluoride contamination.

A significant portion of Dharmapuri, including town panchayats, relies on water from the HDWFMP. However, the groundwater in the region contains high fluoride levels, ranging from 1.5 to 12.4 milligrams per liter (mg/l), surpassing the WHO guideline value of 1 mg/l. The Hogenakkal project, initiated in 2010 at a cost of Rs 1,928 crore, aimed to provide clean drinking water and mitigate the risk of fluorosis.

Despite the project’s objectives, residents claim that poor-quality water, contaminated with fluoride, is being supplied. The Tamil Nadu Agriculturist Farmers Association points out a critical issue – the lack of monitoring of water quality. The mixing of Hogenakkal water with local groundwater occurs when each panchayat uses borewells to pump water into tanks designated for Hogenakkal drinking water storage.

J Prathapan, the District Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Agriculturist Farmers Association, emphasizes that while the Tamil Nadu Water Supply And Drainage Board (TWAD) supplies clean Hogenakkal water, negligence by panchayats results in water quality deterioration, defeating the purpose of the fluorosis mitigation project.

Residents complain of an aftertaste in the water supplied, prompting many to install RO units. K Selvaraj, a Dharmapuri resident, challenges the municipality’s claim of providing clean water from the Hogenakkal Drinking Water scheme, urging authorities to stop the practice of storing and supplying groundwater.

R Anbalagan from Palacode town panchayat acknowledges the water scarcity issue but highlights that residents receive Hogenakkal water only every two days. Despite the risk of fluorosis, some residents see it as a compromise due to severe water shortages, especially during the summer.

TWAD engineers defend their role, stating that they ensure over 170 million liters per day (MLD) of clean water is provided to both Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. However, they emphasize that monitoring water usage in panchayats or municipalities falls outside their responsibility.

As residents continue to grapple with contaminated drinking water, the call for immediate action to regulate the water supply and address the fluoride issue grows louder.

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