AIADMK asks Manmohan to advise against building dam
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhakam MPs from Tamil Nadu, led by M. Thambidurai, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh separately here on Friday and urged him to intervene in the Mullaperiyar issue immediately and resolve the row between the two States.
Mr. Chandy, who also met Union Water Resources Minister P.K. Bansal later, wanted the Centre to convene a meeting of officials of the two States to make Tamil Nadu agree to constructing a new dam by Kerala at Mullaperiyar besides reducing the water level to 120 feet from 136 feet (the full reservoir level is 152 feet).
The AIADMK team urged Dr. Singh to advise Kerala “not to build a new dam and whip up fear and panic among the people on the dam's safety and precipitate [the crisis] till the Supreme Court decided on the matter.”
Mr. Chandy later told journalists that Tami Nadu need not have any apprehension on its share of water after the construction of the new dam as Kerala was always ready to take care of the interests of those people. “Our main concern is the safety of the people of Kerala as in case of a dam burst it would cause a major catastrophe.” He stressed the need to reduce the water level to 120 feet and build a new dam.
Mr. Thambidurai said the delegation also sought an all-India ban on the multi-lingual film Dam999 which was “causing overwhelming fear and panic among the people, jeopardising public order by its rabble-rousing tendencies.” The film had already been banned by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu, he said.
Earlier, Mr. Chandy greeted the Kerala MPs who staged a demonstration near the Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex on the issue. The MPs later met Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and asked her to depute an all-party delegation to Mullaperiyar to study the problem. They also met Mr. Bansal to apprise him of the latest developments in Kerala.
Mr. Chandy also discussed the Mullaperiyar dam safety issue with Congress president Sonia Gandhi here on Friday.
Mr. Chandy, who had a one-to-one meeting with Ms. Gandhi, reportedly stressed the need for the Centre to intervene in the issue and make Tamil Nadu agree to the construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar as the existing structure was weak.
Mr. Chandy, who also met Union Water Resources Minister P.K. Bansal on the advice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, later told journalists that the Centre should permit Kerala to construct a new dam. He described the situation in Kerala “very panicky, so we want to reduce the water level from 136 feet to 120 feet.”
He requested Mr. Bansal to ensure that the Centre examined the safety of all dams in the country which were over 100 years old. As per the National Register of Large Dams (2009), there were 126 such dams in India.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India asked Dr. Singh to call a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to find a political solution to the issue which was creating ‘tension' between the two States.
“This issue need not become a controversy with agitations and counter-agitations,'' the CPI Central secretariat said, appealing to the people of both States to “restrain themselves and create an atmosphere for settlement through discussions.”