India's sixth largest city is almost completely out of water

The city is almost out of water.
The city is almost out of water. Photo credit: Getty

The city of Chennai, India's sixth largest metropolis, is almost entirely out of water.

Millions of people are running out of the resource in Chennai as the Chembarambakkam reservoir continues to dry out. Three other reservoirs that have traditionally supplied the city with water have also all dried from the extreme heat.

The Tamil Nadu state government are struggling with the insufficient water supply after low groundwater levels and difficulties collecting rainwater led to the severe shortage.

Residents are currently receiving water through truck deliveries, standing in line for hours in extreme heat to fill their containers and cans, CNN reports.

Many hotels and restaurants have reportedly closed due to the scarcity.

Private tankers, delivering water from unaffected outside areas of the state, are in high demand. Many are unable to supply water on time, and the cost of frequent deliveries to businesses are expensive.

Wealthier Chennai families are relying on exorbitant private water tankers due to strict rationing, CNN reports.

The exact number of Chennai people without water is so far unknown, but the latest census in 2011 showed the city's population was 4.6 million.

According to a report in May 2019, 712,000 families live below the poverty line in Chennai. In 2011, 29 percent of the population lived in slums. These numbers are indicative of the significant number of people who are unable to afford private water access.

Climate change is also having devastating effects on the country, as drought becomes more common and monsoon rains become more erratic. In a largely agricultural country, the weather could severely impact farmers' harvests and many family livelihoods.

Around 80 percent of India's groundwater is used for irrigation, watering thirsty crops such as rice and sugarcane.