How India staved off Maldives’ water crisis

December 05, 2014 06:39 pm | Updated November 16, 2021 05:48 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A Maldivian woman carries bottles of drinking water, received free from a distribution centre in capital Male on Friday.

A Maldivian woman carries bottles of drinking water, received free from a distribution centre in capital Male on Friday.

After a series of late night calls on Thursday, India dispatched “water aid” to the Maldivian capital of Male, after a fire destroyed the generator of its biggest water treatment plant. On Friday, the Indian Air Force dispatched five planeloads of drinking water, which will be followed by another five on Saturday. Two naval warships, the INS Sukanya and the INS Vivek have also been pressed into action and will purify water through Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems, and will remain berthed off Male harbour until the desalination treatment plant in Male has been repaired.

Officials say External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj worked the phones after a distress call from her Maldivian counterpart Duniya Maumoon around 10 p.m. on Thursday. By morning, an IL-76 loaded with 20 tonnes of fresh potable water landed in Male, that has seen restive crowds and long queues over the water crisis. Close to 150,000 Male residents were left without water in their homes after the generator unit of the Maldives Water and Sewerage Company caught fire and burned. While the Maldivian government put out similar calls to the U.S., China and Sri Lanka as well, India was the first, and best placed to respond, said officials. “India was quick to respond to the needs of a SAARC neighbour, and we are happy to help in any way we can,” said MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

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