Wishesh Analysis II: Mullai dam, bone of contention for TN & Kerala

December 06, 2011 12:51
Wishesh Analysis II: Mullai dam, bone of contention for TN & Kerala

The Mullai Periyar Dam (MP) has been a vital thorn in the relationship between the Tamil Nadu (TN) and Kerala, the otherwise friendly neighbors. On both sides there are serious concerns expressed and of course the political parties are at the behest of the turbulence. The pressures are mounting and burst even before anything happens to the Dam.

The TN Theatre Owners Association has decided to close all theatres comprising 2,300 screens in the state for one day to express their solidarity with the state on the vexatious MP Dam row with Kerala. Later tension gripped Theni district of TN bordering Kerala, as hundreds of irate farmers and local people blocked the vehicular traffic to Kerala to condemn the Kerala government’s move to build a new dam at MP and alleged attacks on people of TN by Keralites.

Earlier it was tense in the Kerala side of the dam, when protestors marched towards the dam and burnt effigies of the TN CM and leading political leaders who opposed the MP dam Demolition. They also pelted stones at busses going towards TN. About 200 people had damaged a gate at Tamil Nadu Electricity Board facility, while certain "lumpen elements" went to the dam from Vallakadavu (Kerala) with a JCB (excavator) and some equipment today with the intention of discharging water and wanting to damage the dam, as per a report by TN.

The TN Chief Minister J Jayalalitha sent a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to provide Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the Mullaperiyar Dam site "to avoid any man-made catastrophic consequences" in view of violent activities reported there. And awaits the reply.

Another political party from TN, Marumalarchi DMK (MDMK) General Secretary Vaiko on Monday called on PM at New Delhi and urged him to provide CISF Police protection to the dam. Mr. Vaiko accompanied by hundreds of party workers and members of MP Irrigation Farmers Association would take out the rally in Madurai City, TN, on December seven.

In a sign of a way forward out of the impasse over the MP dam issue, Kerala and TN officials are to meet on Dec 15 or 16 to discuss the 116-year-old dam in Kerala, which the ruling Kerala Congress described as a 'Damocles sword' hanging over the state. At its Monday meeting, the state executive of the Congress party concluded that the first step is to reduce the water level of the MP Dam from 136 feet to 120 feet and give the go-ahead for a new dam.

Bone of contention: The 105 years old MP dam is made of lime stone and surkhi (a mixture of sugar and calcium oxide). Considering in general the average life span of a dam to be 50-60 years, MP Dam is the oldest in service in the world. Approximately 3.5 million people living under the dam pose a threat of a life time, as per a few. It would just take an approximate two hours to wash off the area, if the dam breaks.

Kerala predicts the danger and wants a new dam to be built in its place. Contrarily the TN says when the world’s oldest Kallanai dam (built in the second century AD) in Srirangam in Tiruchirapali district is still functional why can’t the MP be as well. The main issue of worry for the TN government is, if the Dam is demolished the 999-year lease would be void, and has to surrender the 8,000 acres of land under its control to Kerala.

The Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee, asked to review the safety conditions of the MP dam, met at New Delhi on Monday to discuss the issue that has recently been a matter of discord between TN and Kerala. The panel will again meet in January after inspecting the dam.

Meanwhile Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy on Monday felt TN and Kerala Governments should hold talks to find an amicable solution to the MP Dam row in the overall welfare of the two states. He further added that those who were spreading undue alarm among the Kerala people on the safety of the Dam and instigating violence against Tamils in Kerala and Malayalees in TN should be booked under National Security Act.

So it is tough time in the bordering districts because are equally inter dependent on each other and if this does not get solved at the earliest then the progress in both these states will deteriote. The result would be uncommon burden to the common man. As especially as the Sabari Malai season is on till January second week, the safety of the pilgrims is an emergent concern to be addressed. Watch this space for more details on the happenings at the Dam. So with this Wishesh signs off…..

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