Special Correspondent

`State budget has made necessary allocation for a new dam'

KOCHI: A convention on Mullaperiyar held here on Thursday urged the State Government to go ahead with the construction of a new dam as promised in the State Budget.

The new dam could either be an alternative dam on an appropriate site in the neighbourhood of the current dam or another built in same place after decommissioning the current one, the convention said in a resolution.

The `People's safety convention' was organised by the Confederation of Mullaperiyar Action Committees, which has been spearheading the campaign against Tamil Nadu's plan to raise the height of the 112-year-old dam.

The speakers at the convention pointed out that the recent State budget had made an allocation for the investigation work of a new dam. This was a very positive step. But the Government should follow it up and hasten the work. Otherwise, they warned, millions of people living downstream would be hit hard. The speakers also wanted the Government to take effective precautionary steps to minimise the possible catastrophic outcome of a dam burst.

Bishop Sebastian Edayanthrath opened the convention.

Mariyil Krishnan Nair, chairman of the confederation, painted a bleak picture of the dam and the possible horrific impact a burst dam would wreak on the millions of people living downstream. He said lakhs of people living in the four riparian districts might perish. Kochi city, which lies close to the tailend of the Periyar, would be among the worst-affected.

Lawyer Sivan Madathil said an alternative dam was the only solution to the risks posed by the dam to the people. He pointed out that in case the dam burst, lakhs of Tamil people across the border would also suffer as they would be denied of irrigation water as well as source of power generation. Because of this, Tamil Nadu should realise that its interests would be better protected if a new dam were built.

However, journalist K.M. Roy advised restraint and warned politicians against leading the Mullaperiyar campaign to a Kerala versus Tamil Nadu standoff. The row should be resolved through negotiations and with a spirit of give and take, he said.