The Tamil Nadu government has resorted to sourcing 10 million litres of drinking water per day (MLD) from Vellore’s Jolarpettai railway town to Chennai for six months to combat the severe water shortage in the city, reports said.
Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) is reportedly mulling over using 50 wagons to bring the water to Chennai. Chief Minister E Palaniswami announced that Rs 65 crore has been allocated to bring water from Jolarpettai by train.
Duraimurugan from the opposition DMK party has warned the government against the plan, saying there will be massive protests in the district if the water is transported from Vellore despite the government’s assurances that it won’t affect the city’s water supply, The News Minute reported.
The State Government’s Response to the Water Crisis
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday, 21 June, held a high-level meeting with state ministers and officials over the water crisis in the state.
“525 million litres per day of water is being distributed in Chennai city by Metro Water. The four lakes that supply water to the city have dried up. The government has drawn up a plan to implement to bring water from Jolarpettai through railway. We’ll get daily 10 million litres per day of water for the supply.”Edappadi K Palaniswami, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
The CM also said that the water scarcity in the state was not as bad as was being reported. “The reports of guest houses and schools shutting down temporarily due to water scarcity are not correct. There is no such situation prevailing,” he told ANI.
He also defended the amount of water he reportedly receives at home, saying, “It is wrong to say that I get two lorries of water daily. I have a huge house where many people visit and there is a huge staff. I have to provide water to them.”
Earlier this week, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Minister alleged that misleading information on drinking water supply was being disseminated to create a scare among residents.
Following a review meeting on the water supply in local bodies across the state, SP Velumani, the Minister for Local Administration and Water Supply said work on supplying drinking water has started on a war-footing at an estimated cost of Rs 625 crore in all the urban and rural local bodies in the state.
Kerala’s Offer to Tamil Nadu
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday said the Tamil Nadu government declined his offer of 20 lakh litres of drinking water to tackle the water crisis.
Speaking to ANI, Vijayan claimed that the Tamil Nadu government said that Kerala’s offer “wasn’t neccessary.”
“Tamil Nadu is facing a severe water crisis and state government had agreed to provide drinking water to the railways. Our office contacted Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Office and received a reply that it wasn’t necessary.”Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala Chief Minister
The Tamil Nadu government has not clarified why the offer was rejected, according to The News Minute.
Palaniswami has thanked Kerala’s Chief Minister for the gesture, saying that he will write to him soon.
However he also said that the Kerala government was not letting the Tamil Nadu government strengthen the Mullaperiyar Dam in order to store more water and requested for their cooperation in this matter.
Karnataka and the Cauvery River
The Cauvery Water Management Authority’s (CWMA) has asked Karnataka to release 9.19 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) of the river’s water to the lower riparian states for June keeping in mind Tamil Nadu’s water crisis, reported PTI.
Meanwhile, farmers in Karnataka’s Mandya region have been on strike, demanding Cauvery and Hemavati waters be released to canals for saving water-starved crops.
CM HD Kumaraswamy has responded by saying that the central government has constituted the CWMA and he is powerless, according to ANI.
“Even in Bengaluru & several villages there is a problem of drinking water. Central government has to give a direction to the authority (CWMA), it’s not in my hands.”HD Kumaraswamy, Karnataka Chief Minister
Tamil Nadu’s chief minister has also written to the prime minister asking him to direct the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to "reject outright" Karnataka's proposal to build the Mekedatu reservoir across the Cauvery, reported PTI.
He said that the proposal is in violation of the final order of the Cauvery water disputes tribunal and a Supreme Court judgment.
“The construction of any such project in any place by upper riparian states would drastically affect the lower riparian states in getting due share of water.”Edappadi K Palaniswami, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
The Central Water Commission approved the pre-feasibility report submitted by the Karnataka in November 2018, but has said that the water supply to Tamil Nadu from Cauvery must not be hampered.
The Opposition’s Reactions
The Opposition – led by MK Stalin’s Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) – has been raising slogans against the ruling government and the chief minister. DMK has claimed that the current crisis is due to the government’s “negligence” and “administrative failure.”
DMK cadre staged protests in Chennai, Dindigul, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur, Thoothukudi and Ramanathapuram in the last week, urging the government to take extra measures to address the situation.
DMK cadre and public protested in Chennai’s Arumbakkam area demanding water from Chennai metro supply.
(Photo: The Quint)
Stalin also urged the state government to work with Kerala.
In the meantime, actor Rajinikanth, through his party– Rajini Makkal Mandram – distributed water through tankers in Chennai. The cadre arranged for water tankers in Kodambakkam, and several people stood in long queues to fill pots and buckets. The tankers were plastered with photos of Rajinikanth and party leaders.
Rajinikanth and his organisation were hailed for this humanitarian gesture.
Rajini Makkal Mandram distributed water through tankers in Kodambakkam area
(Photo Courtesy: Rajini Makkal Mandram)
(With inputs from The News Minute, ANI, PTI and IANS.)