With scorching summer pushing Kerala to unprecedented drought, political parties on Wednesday voiced concern in the state assembly over the acute water and power crisis even as the Government said it has already taken all possible measures to tackle the "grim situation."
After a three-hour debate on an adjournment motion by opposition LDF, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Rs 159 crore had already been sanctioned to take urgent measures as the government acted well in advance anticipating the trying times in store.
All through the debate on the concluding day of the current session, members from both sides wanted the government to take more steps to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
LDF members came down heavily on the government charging it with failing to rise to the occasion.
Mr Chandy said Kerala was facing the "worst" drought situation in the state's history with mercury soaring to 41 degree Celsius in some parts and for the first time several cases of sunstroke being reported.
He said district administrations had been asked to step up emergency services like drinking water supply.
He said the government had anticipated the situation well in advance and declared the entire state as drought-hit four months back and started works to minimise the trouble.
Referring to the LDF criticism that the government had not taken any effective step to obtain its due quantum of water from Tamil Nadu under the Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP) agreement, Mr Chandy said the state had sent three letters to its neighbour but the government there had only harped on "difficulties and problems".
Kerala, however, had taken steps to move Supreme Court to ensure it got its due share of water under the PAP, he added.
According to Indian Meteorological Department in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala used to register a normal maximum temperature of 34.2 degree Celsius in March, 34.1 in April and 32.9 in May.
This year an average increase of 1.5 degree Celsius had already been recorded compared to last year.
As many as six cases of sunstroke have been reported from different parts of the state in the last four days.
In view of the serious situation, the Labour Department regulated the working hours of workers including those under the job guarantee schemes giving them three-hour respite in the afternoon.
Drinking water scarcity had been reported from many places with even public water supply sources drying up.
Reports from across the state said the situation in rural and semi-urban areas is more severe with water in wells in homesteads and public places hitting rock bottom.
A state that relies heavily on hydro-electricity, Kerala is facing a severe power crunch due to shortage in monsoon rainfall last season.
One hour load shedding, half of which during the night, has been in force in the state since January on account of yawning gap between production and demand.
With storage in hydel reservoirs fast depleting, the state has been managing with heavy overdrawal from the central pool and other sources at higher prices.
Wildlife Department has reported distress movement of animals, including herds of elephants, in search of water and food.
In some relief, however, the state received isolated rainfalls in many places yesterday, which is expected to continue in the coming days.