Tamil Nadu water crisis: EPS accepts Kerala's help, but asks for 20 lakh litres per day instead of one-time help

In light of the looming water crisis unfolding in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has accepted help from Kerala, but says the amount of water being offered will not be sufficient to meet Tamil Nadu's needs.

“I thank the Kerala chief minister, but  20 lakh litres water will not be sufficient. We are supplying 5,250 lakh litres water per day (in Chennai) and if 20 lakh litres water could be given every day, it will be useful for the people,” he said, adding that he has written to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan regarding the situation, after chairing an emergency meeting on the water crisis.

Kerala had offered one-time assistance of 20 lakh litres of water, which Tamil Nadu, had rejected saying there was "no need for the help at present". After the Kerala Chief Minister's Office issued a release stating that Tamil Nadu has rejected its offer, the Palaniswami government sprung to action denying turning down Kerala's offer. It said that Chief Minister Palaniswami will discuss it at a review meeting being held Friday and announce "an appropriate decision" even as DMK chief MK Stalin urged the Tamil Nadu govt to work with Kerala to help the people.

 Tamil Nadu water crisis: EPS accepts Keralas help, but asks for 20 lakh litres per day instead of one-time help

A man uses a hand-pump to fill up a container with drinking water as others wait in a queue on a street in Chennai, India, June 17, 2019. Reuters

The Palaniswami govt has been facing backlash over the water crisis in Tamil Nadu, especially after Chief Minister Palaniswami claimed the issue was not as big as was being made
out, especially in the media.

Palaniswami blamed the delayed monsoons for the acute water crisis in the state. He added that due to the recent elections, the government was unable to act on the situation.

“Once it was done, we immediately took action and allocated money for the water crisis,” the chief minister said during today's meeting. The government has sanctioned Rs 158.42 crore to tackle the situation.

Pointing to the Supreme Court judgment on the Mullaiperiyar dam which had said that water could be stored to the full level of 152 ft after carrying out strengthening works, he alleged that Kerala, however, scuttled refurbishment works.

"We need every drop of water," he said addressing a press conference, adding people in five districts, including Theni and Ramanathapuram were dependent, on Mullaiperiyar water for their livelihood. He appealed to Kerala to extend cooperation to store full water in the Mullaiperiyar dam.

Chennai's looming water crisis

Several parts of Tamil Nadu, particularly the state capital and its suburbs, have been reeling under water scarcity following depletion of ground water level and poor storage in many lakes that cater to the needs of the city.

All the four major reservoirs that supply drinking water to Chennai have dipped far below the zero levels, and today hold not even one percent of their capacity.

Chennai is now critically dependent on its three mega water desalination plants with a combined capacity of 180 million of liters per day (MLD), and the units are working overtime to remain at least 80 to 90 percent efficient, according to an Economic Times report.

Even during ‘normal’ times, as against the city’s requirement of 1,300 MLD, the metro water department was able to supply only 830 MLD. Now, they ‘officially’ maintain that the supply is in the region of 500-525 MLD, but there is no way a neutral source can verify the claim as residents complain about an 80 percent drop in frequency as well as quantity of water supplied to households.

In a report released on 14 June, the government think tank for the economy, NITI Aayog, said India was facing the worst water crisis in its history. It predicted that 21 cities would run out of groundwater by 2020 and recommended “urgent and improved” management of water resources. There is little or no recycling of water or rainwater harvesting.

The Porur Lake in Chennai, which is considered one of the main sources of water for Chennai, is almost at its lowest-ever level and the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board is now banking on water from desalination plants and stone quarries in Kanchipuram district, India Today reported.

The Selva Chinthamani Lake has dried up due to the prolonged heatwave in the state and lack of rainfall, reported ANI. The major water bodies have dried up due to rainfall deficit in the past two years. Dead fish were seen lying on the peripheries of the dried up Selva Chinthamani Lake due to the severe heatwave and lack of rainfall in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore.

Pipe water supply to homes is not even 10 percent of what it used to be, and the wait for a Metrowater tanker is as much as three to four weeks.

Political blame game

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), which is the principal opposition in Tamil Nadu, blamed the current AIADMK government for its "negligence," and "administrative failure" that led to the water crisis in the state.

The DMK on Wednesday said it would hold protests on 22 June across Tamil Nadu to urge the AIADMK government to take steps on a war footing to address the acute water crisis in parts of the State. The party headquarters, in a release, asked its district secretaries to stage protests in all district headquarters with the support of the general public.

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Updated Date: Jun 21, 2019 17:59:20 IST