Noting that his government has done everything humanely possible to handle the situation, Vijayan said: “Cloud seeding is one method to see that rains are artificially created… this phenomenon has been successfully tested at a few places.”
He was quick to point out, however, that the idea was just being mulled over, and has not yet been cleared.
Vijayan said this while replying to a motion moved by Congress legislator Shafi Parambil who flayed the state government for declining a debate on the issue.
Parambil pointed out that a debate could have helped the government get various suggestions on how to tackle the drought, in which not just humans but even animals in the state’s forests were suffering.
“It was State Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan who informed the house today (Tuesday) that the state is facing the worst-ever drought situation in the past 100 years,” Parambil said, adding that he found it strange that the government was unwilling to discuss the issue.
An angry Parambil said if a situation where people are desperately running around for drinking water did not merit the attention of the house, “which issue are you going to take up for discussion”.
Intervening at this point, Vijayan said the rains have failed and “there was no reason to blame our government for that”.
Chandrasekharan also informed the house that drinking water availability has taken a severe beating and, according to a recent national report, the water table level in Kerala has fallen by four metres.
“The rains that the state received have dropped dramatically… during June to September in 2016 we received 34 per cent less rains; likewise, during October to December, the shortfall was 62 per cent, and the ongoing summer showers have also failed,” the Revenue Minister said.
The state government started to work to mitigate the sufferings of the people right from October 2016 and even the Chief Minister was actively involved in review meetings to tackle the situation, the minister said.
“Nature’s wrath has badly hit us and we have taken numerous steps and we have decided to spend Rs 320 crore to clean up 9,543 ponds,” said Chandrasekharan.
The state government has already begun supplying drinking water on a daily basis and will soon be setting up water kiosks in each of the more than 20,000 wards in the state.
State Water Resources Minister Mathew T. Thomas told the assembly that the water level in dams owned by his department has come down by 45 per cent, while in dams owned by the State Electricity Board it is down to 20 per cent of its capacity; and in dams owned by the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) it is 46 per cent less, compared to past years.
“The KWA has begun setting up of reverse osmosis plants and is busy getting close to 5,585 bore wells repaired as also tapping 585 other sources of water to resolve the grave issue,” said Thomas.
Dissatisfied by the replies given by the state government, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala blamed the authorities for not rising to the occasion, and led the opposition out of the house.