The demand for private water tanker supply in the core areas has declined sharply this summer. Lorry owners say the demand has dropped by 40%-50% this April compared with the same period last year. Only 2,000-2,500 lorries are being operated.
The groundwater table has improved at many places, bringing down the demand from domestic consumers in the core areas. The daily tanker trips have halved to about 5,000 compared with last year. S. Murugan, secretary of the Tamil Nadu Private Water Tanker Lorry Owners’ Association, attributes the dip in the demand to many hotels, malls and large companies not working in full strength for the past year because of the pandemic. Many of the lorries are sourcing water from nearby wells as the groundwater table has increased, he says, pointing out that tankers had to travel more than double the distance last year to places such as Karanodai, Red Hills and Tiruvallur in search of sources.
But the lorry owners have increased the cost of the tanker loads, citing the fuel price rise. While a 12,000-litre load costs ₹1,000-₹2,000, a 24,000-litre load is priced at ₹1,700-₹2,400. Mr. Murugan says, “We have increased the price by ₹100 to ₹300, based on the distance, since last month. But we often agree with some customers seeking more time to pay the additional amount as they, too, have suffered losses during the lockdown.”