Questions raised by Congress members M.A. Vahid and A.P. Abdullakutty on the priorities of the State on the Mullaperiyar issue triggered a furore in the Assembly on Thursday

Mr. Vahid asked whether the State had a proposal to construct a safety dam near the existing Mullaperiyar dam and said that there was an attempt to create confusion in Sivaganga by spreading word that the people of Kerala were trying to demolish the dam. Simultaneously, a panic was created at home that the dam would give way at any moment. He likened the situation to a comedy sequence in the Malayalam film ‘Midhunam.'

Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph who was replying to the questions described Mr. Vahid's comments as ‘‘unfortunate'' and said that it ran contrary to the demand for a new dam raised by all parties in the State. The Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution to press for its demand and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had clarified that the State was not for any compromise on the demand. This was reiterated in the Governor's Address too, he said.

Opposition protest

Members of the Opposition then stood up and voiced their protest.

Mr. Chandy then reminded that the Assembly had met exclusively to pass the resolution. The demand for a new dam was the sentiment of the people of the State. Mr. Abdullakutty, subsequently, said the disaster management wing was not equipped enough to tackle exigencies.

He said there was not enough seismologists in the wing. Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan then expressed his dismay over the comments and said that the preparedness in this score had no match anywhere else in the country. Experts of national and international reputation had assembled here to discuss such issues. Mr. Joseph too clarified that the locations for putting up shelters had been identified and the department was duly prepared to handle any emergency.