He urges leaders and people of Kerala, Tamil Nadu to remain calm and maintain peace

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is said to have expressed his inability to deploy Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel to protect the Mullaperiyar dam unless the State concerned (Kerala) makes a request.

Dr. Singh on Tuesday expressed his concern to a delegation of Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, led by Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy, on the continuing violence in the border areas of the State and highlighted the need for leaders and people from both States to remain calm and maintain the peace till an amicable solution was found to the Mullaperiyar imbroglio.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram too expressed similar views on the demand for CISF security when the Congress parliamentarians from the State called on him on Monday evening.

The Centre has taken the stand that since the issue involves law and order and the subject is under the purview of the State government, the Union government could do nothing unless a written request is made by the State concerned.

Though the Mullaperiyar dam is under the maintenance and control of Tamil Nadu as per a lease agreement, geographically it is located in Idukki district of Kerala.

A few days ago, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wrote to Dr. Singh seeking CISF protection to the reservoir to avert any “man-made catastrophic consequences,” in view of what she called “mob vandalism” organised by certain political parties of Kerala at the site.

DMK president M. Karunanidhi and MDMK general secretary Vaiko too made a similar plea. The dam is at present protected by the Kerala police.

Dindigul (T.N.) Lok Sabha member N.S.V. Chithan, who joined the delegation, told The Hindu that the delegates wanted Dr. Singh's immediate intervention to increase the water level in the dam to 142 feet from 136 feet and to give a direction to Kerala not to precipitate the issue until the Supreme Court, which is hearing the issue, gave its final verdict.

As the issue involved the irrigation rights of the people cultivating more than 2 lakh acres of land and the drinking water needs of 10 lakh people in five districts of Tamil Nadu, the Centre should take some urgent steps to resolve the row, the MPs told the Prime Minister, Mr. Chithan said.

The Congress delegation also took up the ongoing agitation against the Kudankulam atomic power plant, which, if not resolved at the earliest, would make Tamil Nadu lose its share of 1,000 MW of power to be obtained from the plant when the project was commissioned. Some vested interests and outside elements were instigating the protesters, the MPs reportedly told Dr. Singh and sought his intervention.

Among others, M. Krishnaswamy (Arani), P. Viswanathan (Kancheepuram), J.M. Aaroon Rasheed (Theni) and Manicka Tagore (Virudhunagar) were in the delegation.

Meanwhile, Kerala Congress (M) MP Jose K. Mani expressed his concern over the growing incidents of violence against Keralites and their establishments in Tamil Nadu and sought effective steps from the Tamil Nadu government to contain the untoward incidents. “See how the Kerala government has kept the situation in the State under check and people themselves too are showing lot of restraint there,” he said.

“Ensure dam safety”

K.V. Prasad reports:

Expressing deep concern at the incidents on either side of the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday stressed that Dr. Singh should take the initiative with both governments to ensure the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam.

The party Polit Bureau said in a statement that there were reports of houses being attacked in the bordering areas while shops were targeted in some cities in Tamil Nadu. “All these are unfortunate given the longstanding harmonious and good relations between the peoples of the two States. The chauvinist forces are seeking to whip up tensions in both States; people should not fall prey to provocations but maintain their traditional friendship,” the statement said.

More In: National | News