‘Demand for Kongu Nadu being raised to intimidate Tamil Nadu’ | Chennai News – Times of India


CHENNAI: Municipal administration and water supply minister K N Nehru has dubbed the Kongu Nadu issue as “intimidatory tactics”.
In an interview with Julie Mariappan, the minister mocked the suggestion of a separate territory carved out of Tamil Nadu, saying, “How can Kongu Nadu be separated? How will TN get water? Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are facing problems after bifurcation.” He indicated plans to form new corporations and municipalities. The government, he said, was looking into corruption charges against former minister S P Velumani, contracts awarded by the previous regime, and the projects stalled due to lack of funds.
Q: How do you see the ‘Ondriya Arasu’ (Union government) -Kongu Nadu fight?
‘Ondriya Arasu’ has been welcomed by even media stalwarts. We abide by the leader’s command and we will certainly go by what the party, leadership and the chief minister say tomorrow. They are talking of Kongu Nadu to intimidate us. Actor-comedian Vadivelu jocularly said, why are Orathanadu and Chettinadu left out? How can Kongu Nadu be separated? How will Tamil Nadu get water? Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are facing problems after bifurcation. Will they (BJP) increase the burden on themselves?
Q:Is the DMK working on a strategy to strengthen the western region?
We have reorganised the district units by appointing a secretary for every two assembly constituencies (in Coimbatore). We lost by less than 4,000 or 5,000 votes, therefore it is wrong to say the western belt is theirs (the AIADMK’s). We have won two seats in The Nilgiris, three each in Erode and Tirupur. We lost all seats in Coimbatore due to the dominance of the local minister who handled a department for a decade. In Trichy we won all the seats. We will strengthen the party. We are confident of people’s trust in us.
The government is hugely popular, and we are working with the people and our chief minister has been running the government well. If this continues, people say he will remain the CM for two to three terms.
Q: The DMK alleged corruption against former municipal administration minister S P Velumani. Will you pursue it further?
It is being looked into by the chief minister who handles police and vigilance portfolios. He will decide.
Q: Multi-crore projects started by the AIADMK government ahead of elections are mired in controversies. Will these projects see the light of day?
The state will stall the work if there are any faults in the contracts. The projects will continue if there is no wrongdoing.
Q: How many projects are stalled? How much funds are required to complete the ongoing projects?
There are projects that have still not begun either due to lack of funds or stuck after floating tenders. All of them are under scrutiny. Tenders can be floated only when there are adequate funds.
Q:Tamil Nadu’s urban population is 49% and the decadal projection is higher. How have you planned to better the infrastructure and ensure uniform growth of all regions?
The urban population now stands at 55% and will touch 60% in 10 years. Since Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai are bigger cities, projects reached them fully. For instance, Coimbatore received several hundred crores of rupees worth infrastructure projects when former CM M Karunanidhi conducted the world Tamil classical conference in 2010. Madurai also got high-cost schemes during his tenure. Similarly, special funding was allotted for Chennai when our present CM was mayor and local administration minister.
The aspirations of poor and middle-income groups are to get underground sewerage, uninterrupted water supply, lights and good roads. Our aim is to provide all of them. The major problem for the government is collection and transportation of solid waste. Chennai alone generates 5,000 tonnes of waste a day. A 100-tonne bio-compressed natural gas (bio-CNG) plant is on a trial run in Egmore. Bio-mining process has picked up pace. The CM has given suggestions on all fronts to take the state forward.
Q:Is there a proposal to expand corporations, municipalities and town panchayats and in the process take up fresh delimitation?
The previous regime had done delimitation of wards in 2018 and issued a government order on quota for SC and ST and women to conduct polls. But the exercise was erroneous. Even the number of voters was not maintained properly. Dominant women seats have been reserved for men and reserved seats have been made general. A lot of complaints poured in. We must keep in mind the outcome of issuing a second order and possible court cases.
Also, our election manifesto talks about new corporations and municipalities. If such decisions are taken, reservation of seats for SC/ST and women will change. Those are being studied and we will give effect to the change.
Q: How are you going to deal with the growing drinking water needs?
We are evolving plans to augment the groundwater table. TN receives abundant rainfall once in five years, but it goes waste, running off into the sea. The CM has directed the water resources department to construct check dams for irrigation and water supply. This will be our model.
Q: The previous AIADMK government did not pursue the plan for pipeline supply from Kandaleru reservoir to Poondi. Do you have plans to bring water from Mettur reservoir to Chennai?
The Andhra Pradesh government has approved the pipeline project and the components are being studied. The CM will make the announcement on fund allotment and transportation. A detailed study has been done to bring Cauvery water from Biligundulu on the inter-state border. There is a demand for 1,200mld to meet Chennai’s water needs. Two desalination plants are functional, there are two more, a 150mld capacity plant coming up at Nemmeli, and there is a plan to build a 400mld plant in Perur on ECR. We are ready with the plans to meet the requirements for another 10-15 years.
Q: The major and minor waterways of Chennai are contaminated despite the best efforts of successive governments. What are your plans to restore them?
Scientific advancement was lacking earlier, but now we have it. Equipment is available to remove water hyacinth and floating material on waterways and excavators are available to enhance the flow of water in the river. Waste water treatment by national and international agencies are also being looked into. A modular sewage treatment plant of 1mld capacity to achieve new discharge standards is on a trial run on Spur Tank Road in Chetpet to check sewage outfall into river Cooum. We need to have more plants to release good water into the rivers.
Q: Being an opposition party at the Centre, how has been the fight to get funds for the state?
The Union government allocated `3,691 crore under its Jal Jeevan Mission to provide tap water supply in rural households in Tamil Nadu this fiscal. TN health minister visited the Union health minister and they have extended support. Nothing has been stalled so far.

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