The Tamil Nadu government has said it is not possible that there is a water scarcity problem in the state, The Hindu reported on Wednesday. In a counter affidavit filed before the Madras High Court, the state argued both drinking and irrigation supplies are adequate because it has implemented two major water resource projects over the past 12 years.
The division bench of Justices KK Sasidharan and GR Swaminathan was hearing a public interest litigation that asked for a special committee to be set up to preserve all of the state’s waterbodies. The petitio also said all the encroachments around them must be cleared.
The two projects the state is referring to are the Water Resources Consolidation Project, which was implemented from 1995 to 2004, and the World Bank-funded Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Waterbodies Restoration and Management project (2007 to 2015). The state said the projects ensure that all the 16 irrigation systems, 25 minor schemes and 620 rain-fed tanks are rehabilitated from time to time. “In addition, check dams and artificial recharge schemes were implemented and they were functioning effectively,” read the affidavit.
The state also said it was trying to remove the encroachments by enforcing the Tamil Nadu Protection of Tanks and Eviction of Encroachment Act, 2007.
The state’s claims come at a time when drinking water supply to Chennai has been slashed by 50%. To make matters worse, the four main reservoirs around Chennai – Poondi, Red Hills, Cholavaram and Chembarambakkam – are all running dry, which means piped water for drinking is being supplied to certain areas only once in three days.
In 2016, both the North East monsoon and the South West monsoon failed in Tamil Nadu, leaving the state with a huge water crisis. “This is the worst drought of this century,” Muruganandan, Tahsildar of Madhavaram district, had told Scroll.in on June 4.