CHENNAI: Amid searing heat, Chennai on Tuesday faced a double whammy — less water and possibly less electricity. For, Chennai Metro Water cut down its water supply from 830 million litres per day (MLD) to 550MLD and issued an advisory to conserve water. And the NTPC Tamil Nadu Energy Company Ltd, a joint venture between NTPC and power distributor TANGEDCO, issued an ultimatum to settle dues for its Vallur plant amounting to Rs 1,156.05 crore by April 26, else it will stop supply of power to the State. TANGEDCO is the major beneficiary of Vallur plant, receiving 1,066.95 MW out of the total 1,500 MW.
Similar NTPC missives were sent to Karnataka (total dues Rs 89.57 crore) and Telangana (Rs 134.15 crore) on Tuesday. Karnataka reacted quickly by releasing Rs 48.20 crore as part payment.
The Vallur plant contributes about 8 per cent of the total peak hour demand in Tamil Nadu. Failure to pay up could result in power cuts. However, a top official claimed Tamil Nadu could easily manage without supply from Vallur. “Vallur power is priced at Rs 4.90 per unit. We can get power through the exchange at Rs 3.60 per unit and wind power at Rs 3.20 per unit,” he argued.
In Chennai, the water situation is already precarious, as four big reservoirs in the city have less than one tmc ft storage. Two of them, Poondi and Cholavaram, are dry. And Chembarambakkam and Red Hills are on the verge of drying. Chennai has only 988 million cubic feet of water from the reservoirs to supply to the entire city.
With the situation looking grim, School Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan announced that all schools will be closed from April 21. The spike in the mercury level forced people to stay indoors for most part of the day across the State. Highways saw comparatively lesser traffic. Southern Railway offered to run a water train to help it reach cities like Salem, Erode, Tirupur, Karur, Namakkal and Coimbatore if State government was willing to foot the bill. It brought back memories of the water train sent to Latur.