One of India’s largest cities, home to nearly five million people, is running out of water as the main reserve is drying up.
Satellite surveys from June 2019 show Chennai’s main rain-fed reservoir Lake Puzhal is a fraction of what it was this time last year.
All four of the city’s primary reserves are almost dry, meaning that four million people are dependent on non-potable water collected from makeshift wells. The Chennai Metro Water has cut the water it provides by 40 per cent.
Shortages started several weeks ago and the government has been heavily criticised for relying on the arrival of the monsoon instead of taking action. The rains are unreliable and have been late for several years in a row.
The delayed monsoon has left millions of people without water as devastating heatwaves sweep across the country, killing hundreds.
ainwater is not collected.
Earlier this month in Churu in Rajasthan, the temperature hit 50C which is just shy of India’s all-time high recorded in 2016.
The health ministry issued advice for staying safe in rising temperatures. They included avoiding the sun between noon and 3pm and refraining from drinking alcohol, tea and coffee.
The heatwave is part of a trend of rising temperatures in India.
Last year was the sixth-warmest since national record-keeping began in 1901 and 11 of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred since 2004.
The frequency of heatwaves is also increasing, a government minister told India’s parliament earlier this year.