As Tamil Nadu reels under acute water scarcity, the state government has begun engaging in damage control activities on a war-footing. While Municipality and Rural Administration Minister SP Velumani was tasked with addressing the concerns of the people in the state, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami flew to New Delhi and met the Central Water Resources Minister on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters at Coimbatore, SP Velumani said that the state government is doing its best to tackle the ongoing water crisis in Tamil Nadu.
“In Chennai, 4,092 infrastructure works have been done at a cost of Rs 2,635.42 crore. Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board also has completed 268 projects at a cost of Rs 5,346 crore. In Municipality level, 4,417 work are in progress at present at an outlay of Rs 196 crore. Similarly, at the Panchayat level, 1.08 lakh projects have been completed at a cost of Rs 1,929 crore,” he said.
Adding that rainfall was deficient in 2017 after which the state government had allocated Rs 1088.99 crore for digging new borewells and cleaning the existing borewells, SP Velumani said that 41,464 works for reclaiming water bodies have been done since then.
“Village panchayats and municiplaities in Tamil Nadu were being supplied an extra 395 MLD water more than usual due to these infrastructure works. When DMK rule ended in 2011, 4900 MLD was being supplied over TN. Due to the efforts taken by Amma’s government and now by Edappadi Palaniswami’s government, we are supplying around 2400 MLD of water more than what was being supplied in 2011,” he said.
Explaining that the government is making efforts to deal with the crisis, the minister said that the people are being advised to dig borewells where water source is there.
Stating that they have asked for help from Andhra Pradesh, Velumani said, “Andhra Pradesh should give us 12 tmcft of water. They will open the dam only if they have more than 6.40 tmcft. Now the water level in their dam is 4. 58 tmcft. We are pressurising them about this and our government is doing its best.”
Slamming the opposition
Slamming the DMK and other opposition parties who are criticising the AIADMK government’s handling of the water crisis, Velumani said that the opposition also had a role to play in creating this crisis. “The Karnataka government is their ally. Kerala government is also an alliance partner for Tamil Nadu’s opposition party. They are threatening to build dam in their state. The opposition must take steps to block this,” he said.
Listing out the steps the government has taken to tackle the water crisis in Chennai, SP Velumani said that alternate arrangements are being made to supply water for use of the public.
“Water is being taken from agricultural wells around Poondi and at present we are able to take 65 MLD of water from those wells. From February, 30 MLD of water is being taken from the quarries in Sikkarayapuram. 10 MLD water will be taken from quarries in Erumaiyur at a cost of Rs 19 crore from July. Retteri, Ayanambakkam and Perumbakkam lakes will supply 30 MLD water after treatment. We have also arranged to supply 3 MLD of water from SIPCOT’s share to the people,” he explained.
Requesting people to use water consciously, Velumani said that the issue is being politicised. “We have arranged a meeting with the hotel industry members on Sunday. We are acting swiftly to deal with this,” he assured.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Water Resource Minister GS Shekhawat in New Delhi on Saturday. Palaniswami was in the national capital to take part in the Niti Aayog meet scheduled for Saturday. It is also expected that he would meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah later in the evening.