Officials told to think of short-term measures

District officials have been asked to expedite steps to tackle drought in Thiruvananthapuram, to put new water connections on hold, to quickly identify existing water sources, and arrange for pipeline extensions only from such sources.

At a meeting chaired by Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar at the District Collectorate here on Saturday, public representatives came down heavily on some officials, saying that even as the drought was turning severe, the official machinery was moving slowly and thinking only of long-term proposals. Palode Ravi, MLA, pointed out that several projects intended at the panchayat level would not be of much benefit in the crisis situation that prevailed now.

Officials, he said, would have to identify existing water sources, and instead of going for pipeline extensions in areas where there were no water sources available, think of properly managed extensions from the identified sources. Bore-wells should be considered in more areas and in regions where none of these was possible, urgent steps to ensure water via tankers should be taken.

Other MLAs, including Varkala Kahar, wanted the district-level officials to coordinate more effectively with taluk-level and panchayat-level officials to ensure that the drought mitigation measures were implemented properly. Panchayats doing good work should be identified and supported, they said.

Funds released

Mr. Sivakumar said the government had released Rs.2 crore out of the Rs.5 crore sanctioned for arranging drinking water via tankers. Panchayats had been allowed to spend up to Rs.5 lakh from their own funds for the purpose. Panchayats had also been asked to approach the taluk offices for the funds to avoid the delay experienced in approaching the Collectorate for the same.

A taluk-level meeting in the presence of MLAs would be held on Monday. A control room (0471-2731188) was opened on Saturday to take drought-related calls. Taluk-level control rooms would be set up on Monday. A meeting with the Water Resources Minister would be held soon to discuss completion of pending water supply projects.

The Minister said the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) had been asked to complete tender proceedings for purchase of pump-sets and other equipment within 14 days and take steps to tackle the shortage of tankers.

‘Synchronise power cut’

The meeting also issued directions to synchronise the power-cut timings near pumping stations so as to avoid frequent disruptions in pumping.

B. Satyan, V. Sasi, Koliakode N. Krishnan Nair, A.T. George, N. Satyan, and R. Selvaraj, MLAs; Deputy Collector (Disaster Management) B. Chandrika; Additional District Magistrate V.R. Vinod; Revenue Divisional Officer J. Mohammed Musthafa; and other officials were also present.

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