Hogenekkal project on hold, Karunanidhi draws flak

April 5th, 2008 - 8:51 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

Chennai, April 5 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Saturday put on hold the contentious Hogenekkal drinking water supply scheme, facing protests from Karnataka, till elections were held in the neighbouring state in May. The decision, however, drew flak from Tamil Nadu’s opposition parties. “Let us maintain peace and wait till an elected government assumes office in Karnataka to decide the future course of action on the Hogenekkal Water Supply Scheme,” Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi announced.

Opposition parties were quick to slam the move.

Leader of opposition and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa termed it “an act of absolute cowardice”, while sources in the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a party propping up the DMK regime, referred to the move as “uncalled for”.

Karunanidhi hoped that “once the election fever passes and a new government takes over, it would abide by the 1998 agreement between the two states on the project envisaging supply of drinking water to 30 lakh (3 million) people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri (districts)”.

The chief minister, however, added a caveat to the climb down.

“Let’s talk it out and then if no solution is found, battle it out,” he remarked.

Fears of assault have forced several film and TV producers to postpone shooting schedules in Karnataka indefinitely. The film fraternity of both states had held protests Friday over the stand-off.

Karnataka’s opposition to the Rs.13.3 billion scheme, aimed at supplying drinking water to millions of people in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts, has led to protests and counter-protests in the two states. The project, on the Hogenekkal waterfall, is located some 350 km southwest of here.

What started as a minor inter-state dispute over an island in the Cauvery River led to attacks on eateries, cinemas, schools and other establishments in the capitals of the two south Indian states. It has now ballooned into a major political crisis.

Karnataka politicians have claimed that the picturesque waterfall of Hogenekkal belongs to their state and that Tamil Nadu’s scheme is illegal, a charge denied by the Karunanidhi regime.

Karunanidhi laid the foundation stone of the project on Feb 26 after a Japanese bank offered to fund it.

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