Tamil stars fast over Karnataka’s stand on Hogenekkal project

April 4th, 2008 - 7:48 pm ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)

Chennai, April 4 (IANS) An angry Rajnikanth joined a bevy of Tamil film stars who sat on a daylong fast here, protesting against Karnataka’s objections to the planned drinking water project in Hogenekkal, on the border between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. “I unequivocally condemn Karnataka for this reprehensible act of (Karnataka’s) denying us what is rightfully ours,” Rajnikanth said.

Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rajnikanth criticised it strongly.

“A national political party that I respect is forcing me to wonder by its despicable acts as to whether there is a (rule of law) in this country (guaranteed by) the Supreme Court,” Rajnikanth thundered.

The film icon warned Karnataka politicians against using the issue for narrow political gains during the ensuing assembly elections.

“I appeal to people like (former Karnataka chief ministers B.S.) Yediyurappa, Kumaraswamy, (former prime minister) Deve Gowda to desist from whipping up sentiments purely aimed at the elections and nip this fissiparous tendency in the bud before the situation gets out of hand,” Rajnikanth said.

Among prominent film personalities participating in the protest, held outside the Chepauk cricket stadium, were Kamal Haasan, Prabhu, Prakash Raj, Sathyraj and yesteryears’ star Manorama as well as actors-turned-politicians Vijaykanth and Sarath Kumar.

Vijaykanth took a strong view on the issue’s legal aspect.

“Our constitution and legal tomes have clearly said that no one on earth can stop an ordinary man’s access to drinking water. And it is not as though we are stealing Karnataka’s share of the water. The sad truth is that we are being threatened against using our water within our borders,” Vijaykanth said.

The Rs.13.3 billion Hogenekkal Water Supply and Fluorosis Mitigation Project, funded by the Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC), is expected to benefit about three million people in Dharmapuri, about 350 km from here, and Krishnagiri districts of Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka, which is headed for assembly polls next month, is opposed to the project and says its share of the Cauvery waters will be affected.

The presence and strident tone of Rajnikanth surprised many as the matinee idol was born and brought up in Karnataka and has business interests in Bangalore. He has also played the lead in several Kannada films.

Traffic on the busy Wallajah Road bordering the Chepauk cricket stadium, situated close to the state’s secretariat and main government offices, remained disrupted for the whole day due to the presence of thousands of frenzied movie fans.

At the end of the daylong fast, the Tamil film fraternity adopted a joint resolution.

It assured Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi of the tinsel town’s total support in his “fight to achieve justice for the people of the state”.

What began as an opposition to the water supply project in January has since morphed into Karnataka’s claim over the border districts of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri besides the picturesque Hogenekkal falls.

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