Special Correspondent

If Kerala extends invitation

Minister asserts right of Tamil Nadu over Neyyar waters

Kerala’s demand

for payment flayed

CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister Durai Murugan has expressed willingness to go to Thiruvananthapuram to hold talks over sharing of Neyyar river water if Kerala extends an invitation.

On October 30, Tamil Nadu sent a “suitable reply” to the text of the draft agreement sent by Kerala on June 26, the Minister said replying to a debate in the Assembly on a special calling attention motion on Kerala not releasing the water through the left bank canal.

Earlier, K. Balabharathy, floor leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), asked the Minister what the difficulty was in sending a team of officials to Kerala and explain Tamil Nadu’s position.

Asserting that the Neyyar was an inter-State river, Mr. Durai Murugan said its catchment lay in Tamil Nadu. Farmers of Vilavancode taluk of Kanyakumari district, part of Travancore till the reorganisation of States, had been enjoying riparian rights over the water.

The Tamil Nadu government was firm in protecting the interests of the State and securing water for the farmers.

Refuting the CPI(M)’s suggestion that the Tamil Nadu government was lax in corresponding with Kerala, Mr. Durai Murugan said Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi wrote to Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan on October 3, 2007, requesting him to release the river water. Reading out portions of the letter, the Minister said Mr. Karunanidhi had requested that other issues be addressed separately. “There was no reply even for courtesy sake,” Mr. Durai Murugan said, adding that the Kerala Chief Secretary wrote a month later to his Tamil Nadu counterpart.

Kerala law

Referring to the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, 2003 and the amendment made to it in 2006, the Minister said that under the law, the Kerala Assembly should adopt a resolution and there should be a bilateral agreement if Kerala were to share river water with other States.

In October 2006, the Kerala Assembly adopted a resolution, agreeing to supply water from the Neyyar on realising the value of the water given. This position was conveyed by Kerala Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandran to him in April 2007.

Taking exception to the Kerala’s stand of supplying water on payment, the Minister said if Tamil Nadu had agreed to this in the case of Neyyar, the logic might be applied to Mullaperiyar and Parambikulam-Aliyar group of river waters.

More In: Today's Paper