Following public ire against attempts to tap water by all means

The embattled Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited (TNPL) has agreed to reduce by half its daily water consumption to give the public in Karur district some respite and more drinking water.

On Wednesday, the TNPL officials assured the district administration that they would operate only four of the eight pumps they use to draw water from the Cauvery thereby effectively reducing their consumption to 28 million litres a day.

The move follows public ire against the public sector paper major’s attempts to tap water by all means over the past few days.

Enraged residents of Nanjai Pugalur, Punjai Pugalur, Punjai Thottakurichi, Thirukkaduthurai, Kombupalayam and other neighbouring areas in Karur district are up in arms against the TNPL drawing its sanctioned quantum of 56 million litres a day from the Cauvery when the parched district requires 60 million litres a day. The TNPL, much against public and official pleas and directives, used all means to get water to keep the mill running.

Forced to suspend production in two of its three paper mills at Pugalur factory since Saturday, officials of the TNPL pulled out all stops to ensure that the mills remained functional, nominally at least.

Their underhand efforts to siphon off available water had forced the public to protest at Kattipalayam head works on Tuesday from where the TNPL gets its water.

On Wednesday, as the protests threatened to become a law and order issue, forcing the district administration to call a meeting of protesting public, Collector S. Jayandhi convened a meeting to discuss the issue with Superintendent of Police Santhosh Kumar, Revenue Divisional Officer Nellai Vendhan, and officials of TNPL, PWD, TWAD Board, Revenue and Police departments.

When the district administration asked the TNPL to cut down by half its water consumption for a few days, the TNPL officials argued that since the water flow on River Cauvery goes beyond the Kattipalayam works after serving TNPL’s needs, there was no need for them to cut consumption.

But ultimately TNPL was made to see reason to prevent public protest in the region.

Water from Vendipalayam

Earlier, the TNPL somehow managed to secure 360 cusecs daily from the powerhouse reservoir at Vendipalayam up stream of the mill in Erode district by impressing upon the PWD and Power departments of the need to keep the mill production going at a time when Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was slated to visit Srirangam and announce the TNPL expansion plans.

Their ploy worked and they are still getting water.

The reasoning of TNPL officials seem to be that since water was being released for the purpose of the mill, why should they part with it?

But the public facing a dire water crisis are not ready to buy the argument.