JEDDAH: An Indian politician who attempted to cover a dam in sheets of polystyrene has been left red-faced after his bizarre water-saving scheme backfired.
Tamil Nadu state minister Sellur K Raju waded into the dam with dozens of sheets of polystyrene, convinced they could help reduce water evaporation in the drought-stricken state.
But the noble yet puzzling effort went belly-up almost immediately as strong winds lifted the lightweight sheets into the air, tossing them across the surface of the water.
Footage of last Friday’s incident showed officials in rowing boats pursuing the airborne sheets, while others used rocks to try and keep them in place.
Elsewhere broken chunks of the white polymer plastic, stuck together with colored tape, were seen washed up on the dam banks.
The minister defended the hare-brained scheme — which reportedly cost one million rupees ($15,500) — saying he had been told “thermocol technology” could reduce water evaporation.
“I learnt about this (technology) from a source,” he told reporters, without elaborating.
Images of the minister flailing waist-deep in water with the unwieldy sheets attracted widespread scorn on social media, where Indians blasted the botched experiment as a waste of public money.
“Instead of using thermocol sheets to cover the entire dam, how about using a huge tarpaulin sheet to cover the sun. Problem solved,” one Twitter user wrote sarcastically.
“Tamil Nadu’s Next project, putting sunglasses to the Sun!” said another.
A third Twitter user posted a picture of a duct tape holding together a cracked street captioned: “Looks like our TN (Tamil Nadu) minister Sellur K Raju visited somewhere else too.”
— Rahul Vasudevan (@Supermantells) April 23, 2017
The dam on the Vaigai river is a key water source for many in the southern state, where irregular rainfall has caused a prolonged drought in many parts.
Farmers desperate for relief have been resorting to extreme acts of protest to draw attention to the crisis, including wearing necklaces of human skulls, carrying live rats in their mouths and running about naked in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office.
They postponed their protest Sunday after being assured their case would be heard, but plan to return to the capital next month if their demands are not met.
(With input for AFP)