Male/New Delhi: India has sent over 1,200 tonnes of fresh water to the Maldives that is facing a crippling water crisis after its capital's main water treatment plant got damaged in a fire, officials said today.
India's INS Sukanya reached Male last night and transferred around 25 tonnes of water to tankers and sintex tanks were positioned on the jetty by Maldivian authorities.
Thereafter, the ship moved to anchorage and another 15 tonnes of fresh water was produced on board using Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants.
This fresh water would be transferred ashore by water barges arranged by Maldivian authorities and subsequently to tankers.
Another Indian Naval tanker INS Deepak has sailed from Mumbai with 800 tonnes of fresh water and is scheduled to reach Male by noon tomorrow, Navy officials said.
The vessel would also transfer the fresh water on to the water barges at anchorage. The ship is capable of producing 100 tonnes of fresh water by RO plants fitted on board.
The Indian Air Force, which delivered 200 tonnes of water yesterday, has dispatched an equal amount today through four of its aircraft, official sources said.
India was the first country to answer the distress call from the Maldives, launching a massive aid effort.
The spontaneous effort by India was undertaken after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was called up by her Maldivian counterpart Dunya Maumoon late Thursday.
Swaraj then got in touch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and got clearances from other authorities.
The Maldives is facing a national crisis after the fire in its capital's lone water treatment plant and much of Male is still without drinking water.
Amid simmering discontent, President Abdulla Yameen appealed to the Maldivian public to remain "patient and united, while working with the Government to resolve the national crisis, brought on by the fire that broke out at the Maldives Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC)."
Yameen reassured the Maldivian people that a steady and adequate supply of bottled water would be made available until the crisis is resolved.
Yameen said he is grateful to India and Sri Lanka for promptly responding to his appeals for assistance. He also thanked the US and China for assuring their support to the Maldives during the crisis.
Street scuffles broke out yesterday in Male at many places where authorities were distributing bottled water.
The government said today that it would distribute water free of charge to some 120,000 residents, including expatriate workers from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
A major fire broke out at MWSC generator control panel on December 4, causing extensive damage to the cabling of the generator to the Distillation plants, disconnecting water supply.