As Tamil Nadu stares at possible drought, condition of Vaigai river in Madurai reflects growing water crisis

As several parts of the country reel under a scorching heat wave, the condition of a major river in Tamil Nadu's Madurai is a manifestation of the current situation. Images put out by ANI show that the river Vaigai in the district is completely dry, and animals are seen grazing on the river bed.

The agency reported on Saturday that a special music function praying for rainfall was held at the centre of the river. Going by the present weather conditions, residents of the district would hope that the prayers are answered sooner rather than later.

The Vaigai river's basin covers an area of about 7,009.13 square kilometres. A document on the website of the National Water Mission had described it as the main river originating from the Varushanadu valley, and noted that it, along with its tributaries, forms a well-defined, compact drainage basin.

As noted in a report by The Times of India, the Vaigai river was never a perennial one. However, tributaries earlier augmented its flow and the British had built a drinking water project on it in 1898. However, in the past five years, catchment areas in the Megamalai forests of Theni district got scanty rainfall, due to which the river mostly remains dry.

In fact, recently, many citizens from Madurai expressed anger over the river being used a parking lot and alleged that the civic body is paving the way for misuse of the river by contractors, according to The Times of India.

Tamil Nadu faces water scarcity

Due to rising temperature, several districts in the state are facing acute water shortage. According to reports, there has been a 40 percent cut in the piped water supply in Chennai. Several reservoirs across the state have witnessed a decrease in water levels.

"Tamil Nadu is facing a very big disaster in terms of water, water resources and planning. It is facing the worst-ever drought in the last few years. There are four major reservoirs which supply water to Chennai having a combined storage of about 11 tmc. Other than that, there are small reservoirs too. But nothing was done to augment the capacity," said Sundarrajan of NGO Poovulagin Nanbargal.

"Chennai should have got about four tmc of water from Krishna district till April. But we got only 0.8 tmc and the rest is not yet supplied. Similarly, Tamil Nadu should have got 20 tmc of water from Kaveri river in the last four-five months. Kaveri is the drinking water source for at least five crore people of Tamil Nadu. It's a very dire situation now," he added.

Heat wave likely to continue in South India for two days, says IMD

Several parts of the country reeled under heatwave conditions that claimed one life in Rajasthan, where Churu recorded a high of almost 49 degrees Celsius Sunday, with the IMD saying there will be no respite for the next two days.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said heatwave conditions are likely to continue over the northern plains, and central and southern parts of the country for two more days and abate gradually.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jun 02, 2019 22:42:54 IST