Special Correspondent

Durai Murugan denies State withheld information on the issue

  • Steps to be taken to expedite case in Supreme Court
  • Rajashekara Reddy letter to be cited as cause of action

    CHENNAI: The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam Government will take all legal steps to protect the interests of the State in the Palar issue in view of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy informing through a letter dated April 26 his Government's decision to go ahead with the construction of a check dam across the river, Public Works Minister Durai Murugan said on Thursday.

    Responding to a special mention by Pattali Makkal Katchi leader G.K. Mani during the Zero Hour, Mr. Durai Murugan said the Government would take steps to expedite the case before the Supreme Court, seeking a stay on the construction of the check dam, citing Dr. Reddy's latest letter as the cause of action. He said the cause of action had not arisen earlier, as Dr. Reddy had only mentioned about Andhra Pradesh's intention to construct a check dam. The State Government could raise objections over such projects under the Inter State River Disputes Act, 1892, if they hampered the State's interest.

    Denying that the DMK Government withheld information regarding the check dam issue, he said Dr. Reddy, in his February 5 letter to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, had only stated that he was aware of the press reports and statements of certain political parties on Andhra Pradesh Government's proposal to have a small dam across the Palar, which was mainly intended for providing drinking water to the people in Kuppam and adjacent villages in Chittoor district, besides irrigating 4,000 acres. Dr. Reddy had also claimed that he had explained the proposal at the ministerial-level meeting on August 5 last year, he added.

    Now Dr. Reddy had said that the design of the scheme had been finalised and forwarded to Tamil Nadu. It had been stated that the check dam was meant for tapping 600 mcft of the Palar water for drinking water supply and irrigation, Mr. Durai Murugan pointed out.

    However, he categorically said that the Andhra Pradesh Government's move was not acceptable to Tamil Nadu, as several check dams had already been constructed across the Palar. The move would badly affect the northern districts, where Palar, though not a perennial river, was the lifeline.

    Earlier, deputy leader of the Opposition O. Panneerselvam criticised the Government for not trying to expedite the case before the apex court, though Andhra Pradesh had made its intentions clear of constructing the check dam in August last year. The project could not be dismissed as a minor one as Andhra Pradesh could tap water over and above the capacity of the dam.

    Mr. Mani clarified that PMK founder S. Ramadoss did not accuse the DMK of failing to take action on the check dam issue. Dr. Ramadoss had only criticised the bureaucracy and the earlier Governments for their continued inaction on the issue.

    C. Gnanasekaran (Congress) asked if the State Government would try to prevent the construction of the check dam by seeking the intervention of the Union Forest and Environment Ministry, as 484 acres of forestland fell in the project area. Members of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam staged a walkout alleging they were not given an opportunity to explain the party's stand on the Palar issue.