Kerala’s Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine finds himself in a bit of hot water.
Just last month, voicing concern about the drinking water scarcity in Kerala and justifying the need for the recent hike in water tax, the minister had exhorted fellow citizens against wasting the precious commodity.
He even held up his own family as a stellar example of the frugal use of water. His four-member family, he said, requires hardly 15,000 litres of water per month. A larger family may need 30,000 litres, he said, even as he challenged the Opposition to show him one family that uses more than that in the state.
Unfortunately for Augustine, his office (presumably) gave a routine answer on Tuesday, 28 February, to a question raised by Congress MLA TJ Saneesh Kumar seeking to know the amount of water the minister and his four-member family used at their official residence in June and July of 2022.
The written reply stated that he and his family used 1.22 lakh litres of water in those two months — that’s 61,000 litres of water a month, or over four times the amount Augustine had said was sufficient for a family such as his.
The reply further revealed that the minister’s official residence has two water connections, a rarity in the state. And his family used both connections. What’s more, in the two months, the water bill paid by the minister’s family was a meagre ₹2,542.
As the reply stoked a controversy with people recalling his earlier exhortations in the Assembly on the frugal use of water, the minister scrambled to provide an explanation. His personal staff also lived in the house, he said, as did members of his extended family, though occasionally.
And making things a trifle worse, Augustine, a senior leader of the Kerala Congress (M), went on to add that a lot of the water was being used to wash the fleet of official and security vehicles used by him.
As Kerala shook in mirth at his explanations, one think became clear. No one expects him to make any more speeches calling for the judicious and bare minimum use of the state’s water resources.