MADURAI: From world-famous scientists to school children conducting science experiments, none would have thought of such an innovative solution to solve our water crisis as Co-operatives Minister Sellur K Raju did. When the minister and officials invited media to witness the breakthrough technique to reduce water evaporation from the Vaigai Dam, little did they know of what was in store.
It was only after travelling 67 km from Madurai to the spot that the scribes were told the plan was to cover the entire water surface with sheets of thermocol taped together! The minister flamboyantly picked up a few sheets and tried to place them over water. Unfortunately, he did not expect the strong wind to tear his water-shield to shreds. Later, a coracle was sent to place the sheets. Again, unfortunately, the sheets returned to the banks before the men who went to place them.
It was sold as a unique technique to reduce evaporation from the Vaigai dam to mediapersons. Curious in view of the biggest drought in TN since 140 years, journalists travelled nearly 67 km from Madurai to the location to witness it.
Co-operatives Minister Sellur K Raju, his party cadre and officials crowded around the waterside to address the journalists. The grand plan, they said, was to use thermocol, taped together, to cover the lake’s surface and prevent water from evaporating. Simple.
Even as murmurs arose of how there wasn’t enough thermocol to cover the water surface, the beaming minister picked up a few sheets and placed it over the water. As wind would have it, Raju’s water-covers were blown away, some shredded into pieces. Undeterred, Raju pulled up his socks - in this case his dhoti - and entered the water to place the sheets back. But the thermocol sheets refused to behave and were washed ashore.
That was when someone proposed a fresh idea, to carry the sheets on a coracle deeper into the waters and place them there. But the thermocol returned to the shore faster than the coracle did. Officials and the minister then held impromptu discussions on how the sheets could be coaxed into staying over the waters.
Later, the minister explained that the government had allotted `10 lakh to experiment on methods to save water in the dam from evaporation.
“Such methods are being used in foreign countries,” he claimed. “We would be carrying out several methods like thermocol sheets, placing plastic balls and plastic plates to reduce evaporation on a trial basis,” said Collector K Veera Raghava Rao. Rao also claimed that thermocol sheets would not cause any pollution as they would be removed during the night, on a daily basis. But experts say the sheets could be dangerous for fish and any form aquatic life.
When left in water, thermocol breaks into small globules that fish and birds may mistake for food. Being a non-biodegradable material, it could cause harm to aquatic life and river bed, experts added.