Political parties and governments in Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Monday continued to mount pressure on the Centre, seeking its immediate intervention in the Mullaperiyar dam row.
While Kerala Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph undertook a daylong fast here seeking the Centre's immediate intervention to persuade Tamil Nadu to accept the construction of a new dam in Mullaperiyar and lower the water level from 136 feet to 120 feet, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Vaiko met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and asked him to provide Central security cover to the dam and prevent Kerala from building a new one, claiming the existing structure was “strong and safe”.
Mr. Joseph, who initially began his fast at Gandhi Smirti (memorial) here at Tees January Marg in the morning, later shifted to Raj Ghat and Kerala House, the guest house of the State government, and continued his protest there till evening. He claimed he was doing so to “seek a peaceful solution to the dispute. My move is to express solidarity with thousands of people.”
He hoped the Centre and others concerned would understand the problem and help Kerala build a new dam.
To a question, Mr. Joseph said the State government was ready to accept the deployment of any security force for the safety of the dam.
It may be recalled that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had written to Dr. Singh seeking the deployment of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel at Mullaperiyar dam to avoid any “manmade catastrophic consequences” in view of violent activities reported at the dam area.
Meanwhile, Mr. Vaiko, in his memorandum to the Dr. Singh, alleged that Kerala was creating “panic and fear psychosis” in the minds of the people on the dam issue and wanted the Centre to take “urgent measures” to prevent a new dam.
Political parties of Kerala, at the behest of their State government, were indulging in “atrocious, nefarious and illegal threatening activities” that posed a “serious threat” to the dam's safety, Mr. Vaiko claimed.
Earlier in the day, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) deferred till March the hearing on the dam issue and decided to wait for the submission of the Supreme-Court-appointed empowered committee's report. The committee's term ends on February 29 next year.
Kerala MPs had given the complaint to the NHRC last week claiming that the dam, which had become weak, posed a threat to the millions of people living in five districts of Kerala and sought the NHRC's intervention.