TAMIL NADU

Linking of rivers only way out, says Vaiko

THANJAVUR, AUG. 21. The Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary, Vaiko, today said linking of rivers was the only solution to the Cauvery issue.

Speaking to The Hindu before resuming his renaissance march from Sengipatti to Vallam in this district, Mr. Vaiko said that despite all odds rivers should be linked. It was stated Rs. 1,80,000 crores was required for the purpose. But money should not be a constraint.

In the Cauvery delta, there was no water for cultivation and drinking. The groundwater level was fast depleting. "It is predicted that in 40 years, there will be an earthquake in the delta. So we have to devise a long-term plan. New anaicuts should be built. Steps should be taken to recharge groundwater. Rivers should be linked. This will help in producing more foodgrains, vegetables and herbs. Cold storages should be built to keep them. They can be exported when the Sethusamudram project comes into operation.''

`Amend Constitution'

The MDMK leader expressed doubts over implementation of the final award if the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal delivered it. The Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh's unilateral decision to not to abide by the agreement on Sutlej water was a direct challenge to the country's unity. "That is why we suggest nationalisation of river waters. Linking of rivers. This should be done through constitutional amendments. In this issue, we are against State autonomy. The Union Government should have the control over water. In the Amarinder Singh case also the Centre should have taken sterner action. This is my personal feeling," Mr. Vaiko said.

Warm reception

Mr. Vaiko started his 17th day march from Sengipatti after a guard of honour was presented by volunteers. He walked 12 km to reach Vallam. All along the route he was given a warm reception. At wayside meetings, he advised people not to sell land. Cultivation should continue in the delta forever. He reached Thanjavur in the evening.