THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala has offered to provide drinking water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu which is reeling under an acute water crisis. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has offered to supply 20 lakh litres of drinking water by train from Thiruvananthapuram to Chennai.
The Chief Minister's Office has already conveyed the offer to the CMO, Tamil Nadu. However, the Edappadi Palaniswami government refused to accept the offer, saying there was no such immediate requirement at present.
"With most water bodies in Chennai having dried up, Tamil Nadu has been in the grip of a severe water crisis. The water shortage has adversely affected the agriculture sector in the state. It is in this backdrop that Kerala offered to provide drinking water to its neighbour," said Pinarayi Vijayan in a Facebook post.
The exact reason for the Palaniswami government refusing to take up Kerala's offer is not known. There are indications that Tamil Nadu has been looking for water for irrigation. However, so far the state has not made any demand for water for the agricultural sector, said Kerala water resources minister K Krishnankutty.
"Tamil Nadu said they didn't need drinking water as of now as the immediate requirement has been sorted out. They haven't sought water from Kerala for irrigation purposes. At present, even Kerala does not have enough water to meet its irrigation requirements," the minister told The New Indian Express.
Tamil Nadu Municipal Administration minister S P Velumani said Kerala Chief Minister's secretary conveyed the offer to his counterpart who thanked the neighbouring state for its gesture.
"The information that Tamil Nadu chief minister has refused the water offered by Kerala CM is not true," he said in a release in Chennai Thursday night.
Velumani said Kerala government had made a one time offer of providing 2 million litres of water but Chennai's daily requirement itself was 525 million litres a day.
"Tamil Nadu government officials have opined that it will be helpful if Kerala could send 2 MLD (million litres a day) daily," the release said.
Stalin thanked Vijayan for his "timely offer."
"I wholeheartedly thank chief minister of Kerala @vijayanpinarayi for his timely offer to provide water to Tamil Nadu," he said in a tweet.
"Urge government of Tamil Nadu to work with Govt of Kerala to help citizens of our state tide over this unprecedented water crisis, " he added.
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.
Earlier, speaking to reporters in Coimbatore, Velumani said deficiencies in some groundwater conservation projects were identified at various places, including Chennai, and were being attended to.
He said Tamil Nadu was facing the worst-ever drought.
Rains were expected in a few days, he said.
As far as Chennai was concerned, he said there was depletion of groundwater as the city had experienced a dry spell of 190 days with no rains.
Water was being supplied through lorries and borewells are being dug wherever the water problem prevails, he added.
The Tamil Nadu government has said it was largely dependent on groundwater to meet requirements till the onset of northeast monsoon in October.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami has said drought and deficient monsoon had resulted in depletion of groundwater levels but claimed the issue was not as big as was being made out, especially in the media.
(With PTI Inputs)