Opposition members stage a walk out in the Assembly

The Kerala Cabinet will discuss on Wednesday how the State should respond to Tamil Nadu’s unresponsiveness to its demand for releasing water under the Parambikulam-Aliyar pact.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Tuesday told the Assembly that the Minister for Water Resources had repeatedly brought to the notice of his counterpart in Tamil Nadu the need to expeditiously release the water. “But Tamil Nadu has not responded positively. In this context, the Cabinet will on Wednesday decide what measures, including legal, the State should take,” Mr. Chandy said.

Accusing the Tamil Nadu government of dilly-dallying on an issue that would destroy the standing paddy crop on 48,000 acres in Palakkad district, members of the Opposition staged a walkout from the House, led by Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan. He said it was a pity that the government was yet to wake up to the seriousness of the drought situation that had already begun to stalk the State, although it was only the month of December and the worst days of the dry season were three or four months away.

The Chief Minister’s statement and the Opposition walkout followed an adjournment motion sought to be moved by former minister and CPI MLA Mullakkara Ratnakaran. The Opposition walked out when Speaker G. Karthikeyan denied permission for the motion after Chief Minister replied to the issues raised by Mr. Ratnakaran.

Mr. Ratnakaran said the rivers were already dry although it was only December and that the torrid months of March and April loomed ahead. There was a 50 per cent deficiency in rainfall in the State during the two monsoons of the year and the whole State qualified to be declared ‘disaster-affected.’ All irrigation canals were dry and acute drinking water scarcity was also on. But the government was yet to set in motion the machinery to address the calamity that was already on.

Mr. Chandy said the government had, in September, declared four districts — Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki, and Wayanad — as disaster-hit and had accordingly issued orders to the Collector of each of these districts to spend funds and act according to the needs of people. He said complaints about the implementation of these orders would be looked into. The State Disaster Management Authority would meet on Wednesday, review the drought situation in the State, and make the necessary announcements. He said the report he had received spoke of how the entire State was now in the grip of drought conditions.

He said the government would take necessary steps to apprise the Centre of the gravity of the situation and demand assistance to address the calamity.

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