Kerala Congress (Mani) member of the Assembly Roshy Augustine began a hunger strike in front of the office of the Accountant General here on Monday demanding construction of a new dam to replace the existing Mullaperiyar dam.
Addressing the gathering on the occasion, Mr. Augustine said that it was high time the Central Government intervened in the issue.
“The Central Government should take serious notice of the concerns raised about the dam safety and find a permanent solution to the issue,” he said. The Tamil Nadu Government was not agreeing to building a new dam even after the State had given an assurance on release of water to Tamil Nadu for irrigation, Mr. Augustine added.
Stressing on the State’s twin demands regarding the Mullaperiyar issue, he said: “The maximum storage capacity of the dam should be decreased to 120 feet. It is also inevitable that a new dam is constructed to save the lives of 35 lakh people in Kerala.”
He also put forward a demand for a canal, 16 feet deep and 30 feet wide, to channel water to the Vandiperiyar river.
The recent tremors in the Idukki district and the rise in the water level above the permissible 136 feet have raised serious concerns about the safety of the century old dam, he said.
Kerala Congress (M) is also organising dharnas in the five districts, Ernakulam, Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Alappuzha and Kottayam, which face serious risks in the event of a potential dam collapse. Besides, the LDF and UDF are organising dawn to dusk hartals in Idukki district.
Kerala Congress (M) State general secretary Antony Raju and district president Kottarakkara Ponnachan were also present.
A small group of workers of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha took out a march to the residence of Union Minister of Defence A. K. Antony here protesting against his alleged inaction in resolving the Mullaperiyar issue.
The police stopped the protesters about a 100 metres from the house using barricades, and a few of the protesters tried to climb over the barricades.
The protesters said that Mr. Antony should show concern over the lives of people of Idukki district who faced serious risk from the 116-year-old dam.