The depletion of groundwater and borewell reserves have forced hospitals in the city to foot ever-bigger bills to avail water. To cope, some hospitals have even increased the prices of operations.
“A few days ago, tanker operators said they travel longer distances to get water,” Dr S Suresh, medical director of the Voluntary Health Services facility in the Taramani suburb, told The Times of India. “So they increased the cost from Rs 1,200 per 12,000 litres to Rs 2,000.”
For thirty-bed hospitals, the daily price hike on average is Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000. Dr T. N. Ravishnakar, former chief of the state’s Indian Medical Association chapter, noted that the cost increase “is impossible for small hospitals to absorb”, necessitating that the cost be passed on to patients.
Nor are larger hospitals immune. As reported by The News Minute, the Egmore Children’s Hospital – an 837-bed facility with a 200 percent admission rate – relies on tankers to satisfy consumption rates of 1.6 lakh litres of water. Sanitation and drinking water supplies are taking a toll because of water scarcity.
Water shortages have led to protests erupting across Chennai as the Tamil Nadu state government came under fire from the Madras High Court over its mishandling of the crisis. All four major reservoirs which supply the city have effectively run dry, leaving Chennaites dependent on either the Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) or private vendors for their water needs. In both instances, there are week-long waits and high costs. This leaves hopes staked on the monsoon season – until which the suffering of citizens in the city looks poised to continue.