Jun 20, 2019

Chennai water crisis leaves millions in India struggling for access

Photo: ARUN SANKAR/AFP/Getty Images

A delayed monsoon season has left millions of people struggling to access clean water in Chennai, India, while alternative sources and methods prove costly and ineffective, CBS reports.

What's happening: All four of the primary reservoirs the city depends on are virtually dry, resulting in approximately 4 million people becoming dependent on makeshift wells that produce largely non-potable water. Environmentalists are also concerned that thousands of newly dug wells could dangerously disrupt the region's water table.

  • Areas without wells are mostly reliant on trucked-in water instead. While government trucks are covering some of the effected area, they are inundated with long lines and limited supplies. Private producers are seeking to respond to the rest of the demand, but vendors are drastically hiking prices in the face of consumers' desperation. In April, delivery for a private truck of 3,200 gallons would have gone for roughly $22, but now goes for around $85.

Why now: An analysis of 200 years' worth of monsoon data revealed that over the past 9 years, Chennai has experienced more days with heavy downpours and less consistent rainfall, leading to faster runoff and a less manageable flow into reservoirs, CBS reports.

  • A report from last year conducted by the Indian government's research institute NITI Aayog cautioned that 21 Indian cities, including Chennai and New Delhi are expected to run out of groundwater by 2020.

What to watch: Protests are ramping up on the issue, with more than 500 people arrested on Wednesday for confronting the Indian government over what they've characterized as mismanagement, CNN reports.

  • K. Palaniswami, chief minister of Tamil Nadu state where Chennai is located, acknowledged on Tuesday that the crisis could persist for another 5 months, per CBS.
  • However, reports of rain on Thursday in India's 6th largest city were greeted with delight — the first rainfall in about 190 days, the New Indian Express reports.

Go deeper

Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers

McEntee, shown with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, walks on the South Lawn of the White House Jan. 9. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he asked them to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: McEntee, a 29-year-old former body man to Trump who was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but recently rehired — and promoted to head the presidential personnel office — foreshadowed sweeping personnel changes across government.

How art can help us understand AI

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Activists and journalists have been telling us for years that we are handing too much of our human autonomy over to machines and algorithms. Now artists have a showcase in the heart of Silicon Valley to highlight concerns around facial recognition, algorithmic bias and automation.

Why it matters: Art and technology have been partners for millennia, as Steve Jobs liked to remind us. But the opening of "Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI" tomorrow at the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park puts art in the role of technology's questioner, challenger — and sometimes prosecutor.

The Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury fight is the rematch of the century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The weekend's biggest sporting event is Wilder-Fury II, which despite its name is not an action movie sequel starring Jean-Claude Van Damme but, rather, a boxing match starring arguably the two best heavyweights in the world.

The backdrop: In their first meeting in December 2018, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury put on a memorable show at Staples Center, with Fury surviving a brutal right hand in the 12th round to earn a split-decision draw.

Go deeperArrow2 hours ago - Sports