UDF alleges role of Kerala Govt. in denying dam entry for MPs

The purported decision of Tamil Nadu not to allow two United Democratic Front (UDF) MPs to visit the Mullaperiyar dam has triggered a political controversy in Kerala.

Opposition MPs N.K. Premachandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party and Dean Kuriakose of the Congress had sought the permission of the dam authority to inspect the 126-year-old structure given its bearing on the safety of 40 lakh Keralites living downstream. However, the dam authorities denied them permission.

People’s convention

Inaugurating a people’s convention at Upputhara in Idukki for a new dam at Mullaperiyar, Mr. Premachandran said the authorities had turned the MPs back at the instance of the Kerala Government. “There seemed to be a tacit understanding between the authorities in Kerala and T.N. to deny us the visit,” he said.

Against State’s interest

Mr. Premachandran accused the Government of sacrificing Kerala’s interest in the inter-State dam dispute. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s silence on the issue was jarring. By covertly allowing the T.N. Government to fell trees and clear undergrowth to fortify the baby dam, Kerala jeopardised its case for a new barrier at the “seismically unstable” Mullaperiyar.

The Government had scapegoated some officials for the political decision. Moreover, Mr. Vijayan had lent legitimacy to T.N.’s argument against Kerala’s demand for a new dam at Mullaperiyar. It had also indirectly justified T.N.’s claim in the Supreme Court to keep the reservoir level at a “perilous” 152 ft.

The Government had permitted T.N. to fell trees in the Periyar Tiger Reserve without the necessary clearance from the Union Government. Kerala did not insist that T.N. follow due process. At a stroke, it had contradicted Kerala’s position on felling trees near the baby dam in the Supreme Court.

Owes an explanation

Mr. Premachandran said Justice K.T. Thomas, a member of the Mullaperiyar high-level panel, owed the people an explanation. “Can he assure the public that the Mullaperiyar dam would endure safely for the next 999 years?” he asked.

United Democratic Front (UDF) convener M.M. Hassan slammed the denial of entry to the MPs. He said the authorities seemed to have something to hide from the public regarding dam safety. The Pinarayi Vijayan Government had failed to protect Kerala’s interests in the inter-State dam dispute.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 12:53:23 PM |

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