T R Baalu, DMK MP from Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur constituency, raised the issue of water crisis in Chennai. He accused the state government of inaction and demanded that the Centre should send water trains to Tamil Nadu.
How acute is the water crisis in Tamil Nadu?
All lakes which are the source of water for the city have dried up. Last year, the lakes in Chennai had 2,960 million CFT of water. On May 29 this year, the amount of water in the lakes was measured to be just 76 million CFT. Given that we are at the end of June, this must have further dropped. So you can see the sharp drop as far as Chennai is concerned. More than 10,000 tankers are bringing water from outside to meet the needs of Chennai.
What is the situation in rest of Tamil Nadu?
All major rivers in the state, be it Cauvery, Vaigai, Ponnaiyar, Amaravati, are drying up and look parched. All the sources of water in Tamil Nadu have also dried up. They have begun to look like a desert. Farmers are suffering. Many have lost crops, even in the delta area. The situation has worsened because of the government allowing hydro-carbon exploration in the delta area. People at the helm of affairs are busy celebrating the Lok Sabha victory, while people of Tamil Nadu are looking at the sky for rain.
What is the reason for this acute scarcity of water in Chennai?
The water table has been depleting. The government should have made plans in advance. When Stalin was deputy CM, construction of two desalination plants was started. But it has not been completed so far. Even after so many years, nothing has happened.
In pictures | How Chennai is struggling with water crisis
What is the solution to this problem?
The short term solution is to bring water to the city and the state through rail tankers. But long term measures need to be taken. They have to establish desalination plants across the coastal areas. At least 20 desalination plants are needed so that next year we do not face the same problem. The government should learn how to store water. People need to be sensitised on water conservation. We need to recharge the water table.
How have the state and central government responded?
They are quiet. The central government’s response has been quite lukewarm. The state government also has not done anything. The government must ensure that train tankers are sent immediately to Tamil Nadu from the neighbouring states.