The Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) members walked out of the Assembly on Tuesday after Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the government would not retract from the project chalked out by the Kerala Drinking Water Supply Company Ltd. (KDWSCL) to supply drinking water in ‘jars.’
The Chief Minister made the government stand clear on a notice on an adjournment motion moved by V. Chenthamarakshan to discuss the activities of the recently floated CIAL-model KDWSCL and the alleged lackadaisical attitude on the part of the government in tackling the drought situation and drinking water crisis.
The government had adopted the World Bank model in providing drinking water in jars and the State should replicate the good models implemented in other States. “It would not affect the people in any way as households were not involved. If the scheme proved successful, the model would be extended to the industrial sector in the State in the second phase,’ he added.
Stating that the Water Resources Minister was the chairman of the company, Mr. Chandy said the government would have full control of the company and there need not be any apprehension over its functioning. The government will hold 26 per cent equity in the company, Kerala Water Authority 23 per cent, and the balance equity will be from the private sector.
Mr. Chenthamarakshan said the government was not taking any creative decision in tackling drought and drinking water crisis. “The government had not acted despite the warning from the Met department. Water level was receding in reservoirs, lakes and wells. No steps had been taken to provide drinking water in tankers,” he said. Local bodies were not being taken into confidence and the government was trying to make drinking water a commodity by setting up a CIAL model company and distributing water in jars, he said.
Minister for Water Resources P J. Joseph detailed the steps taken by the government after the State was declared drought-hit. He said there had been 26 per cent deficit rainfall in the State. The Revenue Department had sought Rs.1,995 crore assistance from the Centre and Rs.85 crore had been given to Collectors. Funds were not a problem and consensus was needed. The KWA had been asked to avoid wastage of drinking water. The Minister said the new company would only supplement the activities of the KWA.
The Chief Minister, who intervened again, assured the House that the activities of the KWA would not be affected in any way by the setting up of the company. “Drinking water is a problem in the State. We want to give it to all and for that practical steps are needed. It is only part of it”. Mr. Joseph said the sources of water would be strengthened. Following this, Speaker G. Karthikeyan refused leave for the adjournment motion.
Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said the House was being taken for a ride and the government was now trying to put restrictions on supply of drinking water.