Kerala wants Mullaperiyar Dam issue solved amicably: Chandy

Tamil Nadu’s river water disputes with two neighbouring States came to the fore in the election campaigns of Karnataka and Kerala Chief Ministers Siddharamaiah and Oommen Chandy respectively as they spoke for Congress candidates in Krishnagiri and Coimbatore on Saturday.

Mr. Siddharamaiah countered Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s charges that Karnataka was not providing the due share of Cauvery waters to the lower riparian State.

“We have provided the surplus water, as mandated by the Supreme Court order,” he said, rejecting the charge that the Congress had betrayed the interests of Tamil Nadu over the Cauvery issue. In fact, the issue had been ‘mishandled’ by Ms. Jayalalithaa when she was Chief Minister earlier and by Janata Dal (Secular) leader H.D. Deve Gowda when he was Prime Minister, he said, campaigning for Congress candidate for Krishnaigiri A. Chellakumar.

Mr. Chandy said his State wanted the Mullaperiyar Dam and water-sharing issues with Tamil Nadu solved amicably. Both poll campaigns took place at either end of the western belt of Tamil Nadu. Coimbatore shares its border with Kerala and Krishnagiri with Karnataka.

Campaigning for Congress nominee for Coimbatore Lok Sabha Constituency R. Prabhu and also taking part in Easter and ‘Vishu celebrations’ organised by the ‘Federation of Coimbatore Malayali Associations’, the Kerala Chief Minister said his State was not acting against the interests of Tamil Nadu when it insisted on a new dam across Mullaperiyar. Maintaining that the dam was weak, he said Kerala feared for the lives of the people of five districts, including some in Tamil Nadu. “At one point, even Tamil Nadu would want a new dam to be constructed,” he said.

Reaching out to a sizeable number of Keralites settled in Coimbatore, he said whatever move Kerala made over the Mullaperiyar or other projects, it would not adversely affect these people. The Keralites in Tamil Nadu were in no way different from the Tamils settled in Kerala, he said.