CHENNAI: The southern bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday directed the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD) to release only surplus Thamarabarani water from Srivaikuntam dam to industries in Thoothukudi.
The bench, comprising Justice K Ramakrishnan and expert member Saibal Dasgupta, said priority should be given to fulfilling drinking water needs. “Only the excess water should be supplied to the industries in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling.” The order was passed after the Union Environment Ministry recommended the supply of water from Srivaikuntam dam to industries and asked the Tamil Nadu government to revoke the Government Order (GO) dated March 17, 2008, which permits the TWAD to supply dam water only for drinking purposes.
The tribunal recorded the Union Environment Ministry’s recommendation and said that until the State government issues a fresh GO, the Supreme Court’s order on the matter would continue to be in operation.
In February last year, the Supreme Court had directed the collector of Thoothukudi to independently assess the situation so as to ensure that the needs for drinking water and irrigation are not compromised.
At the time, the apex court allowed supply of water for industrial purposes, including for the Thoothukudi Thermal Power Plant, subject to the condition that drinking water requirements were fully met on priority.
The TWAD, in 2011, had commissioned 20 MGD (million gallons of water per day), which roughly translates to 9.20 crore litres, closed-circuit scheme for supply of drinking water in Thoothukudi. However, the water was illegally supplied to large industrial establishments.
With the Friday’s order, the tribunal has disposed of the case filed by Thoothukudi resident and advocate S Joel, while giving liberty to the petitioner to challenge the issuance of fresh GO by the State. Joel told TNIE that he will be challenging the GO. “There are many villagers in Thoothukudi who are deprived of potable drinking water. The water flow in Thamarabarani has reduced and fear of drought looms large whenever the monsoon fails. So, giving away million of litres of fresh water to industries daily is a crime committed by the government on its people.”