Days after Tamil Nadu Municipal Administration and Water Supply Minister SP Velumani denied reports of water scarcity and called them ‘manufactured’, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami accepted that there was widespread water scarcity in Tamil Nadu.
It was only a few days ago Velumani denied news reports about water scarcity in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu and called it a handy job of some people. On Friday, after a review meeting with the ministers and higher officials of the state government about the water problems in the state, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister acknowledged, with SP Velumani seated next to him, that the state was indeed reeling under a water crisis.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, Palaniswami said that his government is doing everything it can to address the situation.
EPS welcomes Kerala’s offer
Clarifying his stand on Kerala’s offer to provide 2 MLD drinking water to Tamil Nadu in wagons, Palaniswami said that Tamil Nadu welcomes the offer. Adding that what Kerala made was a one-time offer, he said that he will soon write to the Chief Minister of Kerala requesting his government to send more water to the state.
“I thank the Chief Minister of Kerala for the offer. But 2 MLD of water is not enough. We already are supplying 525 MLD of water every day. If they can give us 2 MLD of water every day, it would be of great help and would support us. I will write letter to Kerala. They have said that they will give. We welcome it. If they could give us 2 MLD of water every day, it would help our people a little,” he said.
Steps to bridge the demand-supply gap
The Chief Minister said that the government is taking all possible steps to address the water scarcity in the state. As far as Chennai is concerned, he said that senior officers have been put in-charge of each zone to identify gaps in supply and ensure that water is provided in those spots.
Palaniswami also said that in Friday’s meeting, the government has decided to bring water in wagons to Chennai from Jolarpettai, which is over 200km away.
“From Jolarpettai, the government will bring 10 MLD water to Chennai by railway wagons for the next six months. Rs 65 crore has been allocated for that purpose in today’s meeting,” he said.
On private water-tankers overcharging for water
On allegations that people are under the mercy of private water-tankers for water supply and end up paying an exorbitant price to get water, the CM responded that the government has set up a price for the tankers.
“People pay more if they need water immediately. What can the government do for that? If people living in an apartment are rich, they pay Rs 4,000 extra and get water immediately. Because of this, others are also forced to pay more to get water,” he said.
Explaining that the number of tankers in operation and available to the government is not enough and that there are a lot of practical difficulties in the issue of private water tankers, the Chief Minister said that a meeting will be held by the Municipal Administration and Water Supply Minister to discuss this and regulate the prices charged by private water-tankers.
Response to allegations of over-supply of water to ministers
Edappadi Palaniswami also responded to the sting operation conducted by Times Now which revealed that the residential quarters of ministers are supplied with three tankers (27,000 litres) of water every day.
“This is wrong news. All of us are getting water just like you. This is happening since times immemorial. Apart from ministers’ families, there will be many other staff in their houses. Many visitors come and stay at our houses. We serve food for visitors who come to my house. Water is used for all of that. Is it even possible for one person to utilize two tankers of water? Can we take that water outside? It is wrong to interpret it this way (that ministers are getting more water than they need at the expense of the common man),” he said.