Reiterating the Kerala government’s position on the Mullaperiyar dam, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said his government would not compromise on the safety of the dam, a matter concerning lakhs of people living in many districts of that State.
After participating in the inauguration of the 10-day Navarathri festival on Wednesday at the Padmanabhapuram Palace about 15 km from here, Mr. Chandy, who was the first Kerala Chief Minister to take part in the festival, told reporters that while the Kerala government was ready to give water from the dam as per inter-State pacts, it had to ensure the safety of the people living in the districts such as Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Kottasyam and Ernakulam.
(Built around 1601 AD, the Palace, spanning over about six acres, was the official residence of rulers of the erstwhile State of Travancore till 1790s. It continued to be an ancestral property of the royal family and in 1938, the Travancore government declared it as a protected monument. After the re-organisation of States, though the Kanyakumari district was annexed to Tamil Nadu, the Kerala government retained its administrative control over the Palace, according to the website of the Directorate of Archaeology in the Kerala government.)
Referring to his recent meeting with his Tamil Nadu counterpart, Jayalalithaa, in Chennai during the centenary celebration of Indian cinema, he described it as ‘cordial’ and added that “we discussed quite a lot of matters including the ways to sort out the inter-State water dispute.”
The Kerala Devasom and Transport Minister V.S.Sivakumar had already made a representation to Ms. Jayalalithaa to ensure the successful conduct of Navarathri festival.
As directed by her, a 10-member police team would accompany the Navarathri procession up to Thiruvananthapuram to assist the Kerala police.
“The Kerala government is keen to extend cordial relationship with the neighbouring State as it is evident that it has been agreed to sort out the inter-State water dispute through dialogue’’, Mr. Chandy asserted.
He said the Kerala government had sent a proposal to UNESCO to declare the Padmanabhapuram Palace and the Edaikal cave at Wayanad as the ‘World Heritage Monuments’. The government has also allotted a sum of Rs 50 lakh for the renovation of the palace.
To mark the inauguration, Devasom Minister Mr Sivakumar handed over the ceremonial sword (‘Udaval’) to Joint Commissioner of Kanyakumari temples, R.Gnanasekaran. Originally, the sword was to have been handed over by Mr. Chandy to the official but the plan was given up on the objection of local functionaries of the Bharathiya Janata Party. After special ‘puja’ was performed, a colourful procession started from the Thevarakattu Saraswathy Amman temple with the mounting of Saraswathy Amman idol on a highly decorated elephant.
Among those who participated in the function were Kerala Minister for Cultural Affairs K.C.Joseph, Tamil Nadu unit president of the BJP Pon.Radhakrishnan, Padmanabhapuram municipal chariperson Sathya Devi and Director of Archaeology in the Kerala government G.Prem Kumar.