India rushes water to thirsty Maldives

NEW DELHI: India responded to the Maldivian SOS for drinking water and managed dispatching drinking water to Maldives on Friday . On Friday early morning it received a distress call from Male requesting fresh water supplies as the capital's main water treatment plant was damaged in a fire. India sent 200 tonnes of drinking water through five IAF heavy-lift aircraft and also pressed into service naval warships to supply potable water to Male. 

Indian PM Narendra Modi used the opportunity to assure Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen that India stood "shoulder to shoulder" with Maldives, saying "together we will take our ties further ahead".

Maldives conveyed to foreign minister Sushma Swaraj through her counterpart Dunya Maumoon, the daughter of former president Abdul Gayoom, that Male was in a state of emergency as its 100,000 residents were left without drinking water after the desalination plant there stopped working.

Swaraj discussed the issue with Modi after which things moved quickly, allowing an IAF plane carrying potable water to depart for Male early morning. "India was the first country to reach Male with assistance," foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told the Indian media . "We are ready to help a Saarc neighbour in any way we can," he added.

While India sent 200 tonnes of water on Friday, five more aircraft carrying the same amount of water will reach Male on Saturday. Indian Navy's patrol vessel INS Sukanya reached Male on Friday night and will be stationed there to produce water round the clock to meet the water crisis. It is carrying 35 tonnes of fresh water and has two reverse osmosis (RO) plants onboard which have a capacity of producing 20 tonnes of fresh water per day.

The government of Maldives declared a state of emergency after a fire at a water treatment plant cut off drinking water to the capital. 

About 100,000 residents in Male have lost access to safe tap water, according to the government, which is providing free bottled water.

The Maldives government has also appealed to Sri Lanka, China and the US for help.

According to the UN, there are no adequate rivers or streams on the Maldives, and the country finds it difficult to obtain drinking water.

By far, the largest volume of drinking water in the capital is provided by desalination plants.

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