Rivals DMK, AIADMK jointly spearhead T.N. cause, while Congress, CPI(M) bat for Kerala

The Mullaperiyar Dam issue sparked a row between members belonging to Tamil Nadu and Kerala in both Houses of Parliament and the two sides were so unrelenting that the Lok Sabha had to be adjourned for the day on Wednesday.

The issue was raised during zero hour in both Houses; Congress member P.T. Thomas mentioned the issue in the Lok Sabha, while All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader V. Maitreyan brought it up for discussion in the Upper House, leading to heated exchanges.

It saw rivals the AIADMK and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) jointly spearheading the cause of Tamil Nadu, while the other two rivals, the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), batted for Kerala.Seeking the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, members wanted him to immediately convene a meeting with the Chief Ministers of both States to resolve the issue.

Debate for 30 minutes

In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was discussed for over 30 minutes, but in the Lok Sabha nothing was audible as the two sides tried to shout each other down when the matter was raised twice by the Congress members.

No sooner had Mr. Thomas sought to raise the issue than members from Tamil Nadu objected to the points he was raising. Eventually the two sides took to their seats, but when Jose K. Mani raised the matter, they opposed it again. The Chair was left with no option but to adjourn the House albeit at the fag-end of the day.

In the Rajya Sabha, members from Tamil Nadu, cutting across party lines, said the 116-year-old dam was safe and demanded that its water level be raised to 142 feet, while those from Kerala said it was a question of life and death of the people in the State and their safety should not be compromised with.

Maitreyan's call

Raising the matter, Mr. Maitreyan wanted the Prime Minister to advise the Kerala government to honour the rights guaranteed to Tamil Nadu under various pacts and abide by the 2006 orders of the Supreme Court in the matter.

He wanted the Prime Minister to ask Kerala to desist from its approach to construct a new dam, not to whip up fear and panic among the people of the State and to deploy the Central Industrial Security Force immediately at the dam site to prevent any “intentional damage by lumpen elements.”

‘Apprehensions baseless'

The DMK's Tiruchi Siva said the dam was strong enough and safe, as had been certified, and apprehensions about its safety were baseless.

D. Raja (CPI) wanted the Centre to play a pro-active role and allay any fears about dam safety while Tamil Nadu should get the waters. “Both Tamil Nadu and Kerala have had the best of relations and that should be maintained. There should not be attempts to raise emotions.”

Roorkee study cited

Quoting a Roorkee study, Congress member from Kerala P.J. Kurien said more than 30 lakh people downstream of the dam were living in fear about their safety. “If the dam was not safe, there should be another dam but fully protecting the Tamil Nadu interests, if not more. All people are one.”

While Tamil Nadu MP T.K. Rangarajan (CPI-M) said the Centre should intervene before the row turns into a law and order situation, his party colleague from Kerala T.N. Seema said the 30 lakh people who feared for their safety, could not live in fear and panic. “It is no joke. The Prime Minister must intervene.”

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