India’s Chennai rapid growth threatened by water shortages


In this Wednesday, July 17, 2019, photo, an Indian fixes bait for fish, sitting on the dried up bed of Red Hills lake, a 4,500-acre 19th-century reservoir, in Chennai, capital of the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. In Chennai, a coastal city of about 10 million and the capital of Tamil Nadu state, rapid development and rampant construction have overtaxed a once-abundant natural water supply, forcing the government to spend huge sums to desalinate sea water, bring water by train from hundreds of kilometers (miles) away and deploy an army of water trucks to people whose household taps have suddenly run dry. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

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CHENNAI, India (AP) — With dozens of billion-dollar companies and thousands of high-paying IT and manufacturing jobs, the southern Indian city of Chennai has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

But now it’s running out of water, threatening to put a brake on all that growth.

The shortfall is disrupting business at all levels, forcing the city to spend huge sums to desalinate sea water, bring water by train from afar and deploy an army of water trucks to households whose taps ran dry.

Chennai’s population has more than tripled in three decades. And like many cities across India, in a drive to develop, the city has changed zoning to permit building over filled-in ponds and canals and on flood plains, which means the monsoon season’s copious rainfall isn’t absorbed to recharge groundwater supplies.

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