TAMIL NADU

Jayalalithaa's plea to Naidu for water

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, with her Andhra Pradesh counterpart, Chandrababu Naidu in Hyderabad on Wednesday.  

HYDERABAD DEC. 25. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, today urged her Andhra Pradesh counterpart, N. Chandrababu Naidu, to take steps to release Krishna water to meet the drinking water needs of Chennai in the summer.

Expeditious completion of the works on the Krishna water project to facilitate water supply to Chennai figured prominently during the luncheon meeting between the two.

Mr. Naidu and his wife, Bhuvaneswari, invited Ms. Jayalalithaa, to their Jubilee Hills residence for lunch. No member of the Naidu Cabinet or official was present at the exclusive engagement. Informed sources said that when the two met at the National Development Council meet in New Delhi last week, Ms. Jayalalithaa expressed the desire to discuss the drinking water issue with Mr. Naidu, leading to today's talks. Ms. Jayalalithaa arrived here on Tuesday night for a week-long stay.

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister referred to the precarious water situation in Chennai in the wake of failure of the north-east monsoon. There was just enough water to meet the needs of Chennai until March. Against this backdrop, she stressed the need to speed up the pending works of the Krishna water project.

Ms. Jayalalithaa specifically sought early completion of evacuation and rehabilitation of 11 villages located in the waterspread area of Somasila reservoir, shifting of district roads running in the foreshore of the Kandaleru dam and excavation in the Chennamukkapalli canal linking the Telugu Ganga canal with the Pennar. Also, lining works of the flood flow canal and the Kandaleru-Poondi canal needed to be speeded up. She sought Mr. Naidu's help and support in releasing adequate quantity of water to Chennai from April 2003, as the available quantity was sufficient only up to March.

Responding to the plea, Mr. Naidu assured the Ms. Jayalalithaa that the pending works would be expedited to ensure `regular supply of assured quantity' of water to Chennai as envisaged in the project agreement, according to a press release issued by the Tamil Nadu Government.

The 100-minute meeting between the two is understood to have centred around the drinking water issue and little else. When reporters met Mr. Naidu at a Christmas function later, he explained that he only invited Ms. Jayalalithaa for lunch and that no political significance be attached to it. Political observers believe that with Ms. Jayalalithaa getting closer to the BJP leadership lately and Mr. Naidu eager to maintain a safe distance from it after the Gujarat poll, there could not have been much common ground for them to cover.