Mediation offer welcomed

Former Water Resources Minister N.K. Premachandan has urged the Centre to exercise the authority conferred on it by the Constitution to intervene and give clear directions on inter-State disputes like the Mullaperiyar issue.

In an article released here on Monday, Mr. Premachandan said that the Union Water Resources Minister's offer to mediate on the Mullperiyar issue was welcome. But the conditions put forward by him for that were not acceptable. He described as unilateral and unjust the Centre's stand that Kerala should agree to retain all the benefits which Tamil Nadu was getting under the lease deed of 1886 even after 125 years. It was neither impartial nor logical. He contended that Kerala was at the same time willing to give the same quantity of water which Tamil Nadu was getting even after the construction of the new dam. Such an assurance was given at the talks which the Chief Ministers of the two States held in New Delhi under the mediation of the then Union Water Resources Minister Saifudin Soz during the previous government's period and at the talks which the Water Resources Ministers of the two States held. Such an assurance was given to the five-judge Constitutional Bench and the three-member Division Bench also of the Supreme Court. It was given in writing on the direction of the Supreme Court.

The RSP leader wanted the Centre to mediate on the issue on the basis of the highly liberal and just offer put forward by Kerala. He felt that the other conditions could be finalised through bilateral talks if the proposal to construct a new dam was accepted in principle. He was confident that the issue could be settled easily through mediation. He wanted to know which other State would adopt such a liberal stand in a federal set-up. It was not Kerala's weakness but an instance of its political maturity, sensible approach and sense of nationalism.

‘Respect the stand'

Mr. Premachandan asked Tamil Nadu to come forward to respect the stand. Why was not the Tamil Nadu government appreciating the magnanimity of Kerala in constructing a dam across a river which originated in the State and flowed within the State and giving it to Tamil Nadu at a nominal lease rent for irrigation in their five districts. It was such a stand which made the federal government's intervention inevitable. Even the Supreme Court had on a number of occasions observed that a political solution to the issue was more practical.

He wanted Kerala to make every move with care and maturity. The people had more or less accepted the proposal to construct a new dam. The next thing to which Kerala should pay attention was the conditions relating to the new dam. It was in this area that the reactions of some persons at the Centre were casting their shadow. It should understand the trap behind the offer to discuss if Kerala gave in writing that it would protect the interests of Tamil Nadu in full. It did not mean that Kerala should view the issue in an emotional manner. He said that Kerala should be able to approach the issue in a careful, mature and sensible manner to protect the interests of the State. It was the duty and responsibility of everyone to facilitate such a development, he felt.