Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to direct immediately Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests (independent charge) Jairam Ramesh to withdraw the decision of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife, permitting the Kerala government to carry out a survey and investigation in the Periyar Tiger Reserve for a new Mullaperiyar dam.
In his letter, Mr. Karunanidhi quoted the minutes of the meeting of the Committee last month and explained that the decision was taken on erroneous details.
The Chief Minister, who expressed shock over the wording of the minutes of the meeting chaired by Mr. Jairam Ramesh, referred to the statement in the document, which stated that “the old dam was 113 years old, weak and could cause serious disaster in future”.
An expert committee, constituted by the Union Water Resources Ministry in June 2000, had certified that the dam was safe. “Therefore, whether the dam is weak or not, is not within the jurisdiction of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife of the Ministry of Environment and Forests,” Mr. Karunanidhi said.
Under such circumstances, the State government was “left with no recourse” except to approach the Supreme Court on Wednesday, requesting to grant stay the operation of the permission given on Tuesday to Kerala to conduct the survey for a new Mullaperiyar dam.
Adverting to the agenda notes for the Committee meeting in which it was mentioned that the matter was not sub judice, he described this as a blatant misrepresentation of facts and said the case, which was pending in the Court, was scheduled for the next hearing on October 20.
Following reports in the media regarding the Committee meeting, he wrote a letter to the Union Minister on September 22 and requested him to consult the State government before giving any permission to Kerala. Apart from not responding to his [Mr. Karunanidhi’s] letter, “he [Mr. Jairam Ramesh] has gone ahead and permitted the Kerala government to conduct the survey without consulting the Tamil Nadu government,” the Chief Minister added.
Keywords: Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, Mullaperiyar, survey, investigation, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Supreme Court