‘AIADMK government has not done anything to augment water supply’
DMK leader says CM should not be holding the PWD portfolio
What, in your opinion, has led to the current water crisis?
During British rule, water was supplied to Chennai from the Poondi reservoir. Another scheme was implemented in Puzhal through the initiative of Congress leader Sathyamurthy. When that also proved inadequate, the MGR government conceived the idea of the Krishna Water Project. But he did not survive long enough to see that water flowing into the city. The DMK government led byKalaignar (Karunanidhi), in 1989, met then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao and implemented the project. We decided to go for desalination plants in Nemmeli and North Chennai with funding from the Centre when the water requirement rose further. Kalaignar tapped the water from Porur lake, and water from Poondi was used for irrigation. He made provisions for sending excess water from Poondi to Chembarambakkam.
But the AIADMK implemented the Veeranam water project…
The AIADMK can take credit for it. But again, the land acquisition [for this project] was done during the DMK rule. We have to pin our hopes on Cauvery water reaching Veeranam. The AIADMK government did not make any effort to meet the increasing water requirement. Finally, in 2016, it called for tenders to increase the supply of water from Nemmeli and borrowed funds from the German government instead of getting it from the Centre. The tenders were opened in 2017. Though the technical bid was won by a company, the price bid was not opened. The delay went to the level of the German government threatening to cancel the project. I have spoken about the issue in the Assembly, and our leader M.K. Stalin has also raised it. The work was awarded only after the court intervened. If the government had increased the capacity of the desalination plant to 150 MLD, the present crisis could have been avoided.
Are you saying the State took no concrete action?
When there was a crisis in 1982, then Chief Minister MGR brought water by rail from Tiruchi and Erode, and the Railways Ministry came forward to transport water in wagons free of cost. Has the present government made any such effort? You know the Chengalpattu lake has plenty of water and it could be used for meeting the drinking water needs. The government is instead bringing stagnant and polluted water from quarries. People dump carcasses of animals there.