Special Correspondent

To facilitate the Government to take effective action to protect the State's interests

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The two United Democratic Front (UDF) nominees in the Dam Safety Authority have resigned from their posts as members in order to facilitate the Government to take effective action to protect Kerala's interests in the Mullaperiyar issue.

Announcing this at a press conference here on Tuesday, the former Water Resources Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said that he had sent the resignation letters of Thomas Mathew and Chakkanad Rajendranath to Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan and Water Resources Minister N. K. Premachandran. He said the two members had resigned as per the directions of the Chief Minister and the Water Resources Minister. The attempts to challenge the validity of the amended law should be fought unitedly, he said. He wanted the State Government to exercise its powers under the amended Irrigation and Water Conservation Act under sections 57, 58, 62 (a), 62 (b) and 68. The Act has provisions to include dams that are above 40 years and decommission them if necessary.

In his letter to the Chief Minister informing him about the resignations, Mr. Radhakrishnan said the State Government should protect the amended law at all costs. The law had declared 22 old dams as scheduled dams.

The Supreme Court had rejected the State Government's review petition against the court's verdict on the raising of the dam's height from 132 feet to 146 feet. Mr. Radhakrishnan said the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam was a cause of concern to the 45-lakh people living in Idukki, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Alappuzha. Asked whether the appointment to the authority had been a political decision, Mr. Radhakrishnan said the former UDF Government had appointed the two as they were experts. Since the two members were appointed during his tenure as Water Resources Minister, he had taken the responsibility of announcing their resignations. He had also discussed the matter with the Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, senior party leader A. K. Antony and KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala.

Ban on soft drinks

Mr. Radhakrishnan, while welcoming the Left Democratic Front (LDF) recommendation to ban colas, said that the Government should also take steps to enforce the ban on pan masala and other tobacco products around schools and hospitals. The former UDF Government had imposed a ban, but at present it was not being enforced.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said that the LDF recommendation to ban the colas on the basis of the Centre for Science and Environment report regarding pesticide residue in them was quite off the mark. The current agitation in Plachimada was with regard to the water rights. The Government had the powers to impose a ban on the colas for pesticide residue, he said.

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