Special Correspondent

Government, Opposition put their heads together for relief measures

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The rising mercury and the drought conditions being experienced in different parts of the State have got the lawmakers worried. The Assembly on Thursday saw several Ministers and Opposition leaders putting their heads together to reach relief to the drought affected and mitigate the impact of the dry spell.

The discussion on the subject arose from a submission by M. Hamsa (CPI-M), who wanted urgent steps to provide relief to those who had suffered sunstroke on Wednesday in his constituency in Palakkad. The mercury in the district had risen to 42 degrees Celsius on Wednesday. What ensued was a veritable short-duration discussion on the subject.

Replying to the submission, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said he had got in touch with the Palakkad Collector immediately on getting information that some six persons had suffered sunstroke. He had also directed the Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) to Palakkad to make an on-the-spot study.

Deputy leader of the Congress Legislature Party G. Karthikeyan suggested that since farm workers and those who must spend a major part of the day would not be able to work under the severe sun, the government should consider giving them free ration and treatment. The government should also consider setting up a crisis management cell at the Secretariat, he said.

Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran said the dry spell was causing serious damage to all drinking water supply schemes based on groundwater. A second study conducted by the Groundwater Department had shown that there was a 38 per cent fall in groundwater over the last fortnight, he said.

Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran said a team of the Disaster Management Authority would visit Palakkad. The government had already released funds for drinking water supply in all areas experiencing water shortage. It would provide additional funds for Palakkad if the need arose, he added.

Forest Minister Benoy Viswom said that though short-term measures were crucial, the Forest Department would use the opportunity to promote long-term afforestation campaigns which alone could provide a long-term solution to the problem.

Power shortage

Power Minister A.K. Balan cautioned the House about the rising power consumption and pointed out that the peak consumption level had risen to 54 million units on Wednesday and sought a massive awareness campaign to bring down power consumption levels.

Congress leader Aryadan Mohammed said that given the warning that the State would experience severe water shortage, water-theme parks and other water-intensive entertainment facilities should be asked to close down till the onset of rain in June.

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