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Shun Blame Game, Evolve Strategy to Harvest Rainwater: Scientist

CHENNAI: Eminent agriculture scientist Professor MS Swaminathan has urged government authorities and civic society in Tamil Nadu to evolve a strategy to harvest rainwater and prevent flooding rather than indulge in a ‘blame game’ over the recent heavy rains and consequential hardship.

His view assumes significance with opposition parties’ criticising the state government for its “ineffective” preparation to tackle rains and relief work, and the state asserting that it took effective and necessary steps.

“Instead of resorting to blame game, it is important for citizens and officers to develop a strategy for ensuring that the excess of monsoon rains is conserved,” Prof Swaminathan said.

In a statement, he said the situation should be managed “in a manner that hardship to human beings and disruption of normal life is avoided.”

Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) was launched by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa during her previous tenure. Government, commercial and residential buildings had put up RWH structures. However, it is dysfunctional in several such buildings and is yet to be set up in other places.

Against this background, Prof Swaminathan emphasised that surplus water should be saved in aquifers, wells, ponds, reservoirs and “other storage structure (rain water harvesting structures)” to overcome water scarcity later, making the rains a blessing, rather than a curse.

“Naturally occurring drains have become clogged and there is no way for water to recede,” he said, adding “infiltration of water into soil was also poor due to reasons, including the hardening of the top soil.”

The heavy rains in coastal Tamil Nadu have highlighted the need for “an urgent mapping of hotspots” in terms of human suffering, he said, adding,”The problem has to be viewed in a decentralized manner with the involvement of the local communities. The major cause of flash floods is the lack of proper drainage arrangements.”