TAMIL NADU

DMK, AIADMK trade charges over water crisis

CHENNAI JAN. 28. Inter-State river disputes dominated the Tamil Nadu Assembly today with Opposition members railing at the Government for ``inaction'' on issues of sharing Cauvery, Krishna and Bhavani waters.

While AIADMK members and DMK MLAs blamed each other for the Cauvery crisis, the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, said she was not averse to meeting her Kerala counterpart, A.K. Antony, to prevent construction of a weir across the Bhavani on the Kerala side. Denying there was any delay on the part of the Government in reacting to the developments, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the State was consulting legal experts before deciding to hold talks with Kerala.

Intervening during the debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor's address, she said that as the State had already approached the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal on the issue, the Government wanted to be clear that talks with Kerala would not hamper the efforts at finding a solution through the tribunal.

At this, the DMK deputy leader, Durai Murugan, said the Government should solve the issue through direct talks with Kerala rather than through the tribunal, as the latter course would take a long time. Ms. Jayalalithaa said she had written to the Kerala Chief Minister, but a reply was delayed.

When K. Ponmudi (DMK) faulted the Chief Minister for not taking officials along with her during the talks with the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu, she said she was accompanied by her Secretaries. Although the Chief Secretary and the PWD Secretary were not present during the talks, both she and Mr. Naidu were fully aware of the facts of the Krishna water issue. It was not always necessary to have talks in the presence of officials.

When Mr. Ponmudi pointed out that Ms. Jayalalithaa had on an earlier occasion stated Mr. Naidu was part of the deception practised by the DMK on the Krishna water issue, she wondered why the DMK was raking up old issues. If the intention was to ruin the good relations between her and Mr. Naidu, it would not succeed.

Towards the end of the day's sitting, a remark that the former Chief Minister, M.Karunanidhi, had betrayed the State on the Cauvery issue led to noisy scenes with agitated DMK members, on their feet, shouting for withdrawal of the comment. Trouble began when Sivasamy (AIADMK) said the DMK Government did not renew the 1924 accord between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in 1974 and this was the root of the delta crisis.

Mr. Durai Murugan contested this claim and said the AIADMK member was misleading the House. At this, the Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan, after reading out extracts from a discussion in the House on August 24, 1968, inferred that it was Mr.Karunanidhi who had ``miscalculated'' and ``betrayed'' the people of Tamil Nadu. Because of this, Karnataka increased its area under cultivation from 3.5 lakh hectares to 18 lakh hectares.

The vociferous DMK members kept pressing for removal of the offensive words. Amid the din, the Chief Minister said she had one question: why did not the DMK Government renew the accord? The party would not be able to answer this, she added.

The prolonged noisy scenes ended only with the Speaker, K. Kalimuthu, adjourning the House for the day.

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