Mullaperiyar issue generates heat in Rajya Sabha

December 7th, 2011 - 3:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) The dispute over the Mullaperiyar dam generated heat in the Rajya Sabha during zero hour Wednesday, with MPs from Tamil Nadu saying the dam was safe and those from Kerala pleading for a new dam.

D. Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI) urged the immediate intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the convening of a meet of the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to find an amicable solution.

Making a statement during zero hour, V. Maitreyan, an AIADMK member from Tamil Nadu, said “vandalism at the dam site (in Kerala) should be stopped”. He said the gate of the dam compound was damaged by mobs.

Maitreyan’s statement evoked protests from members from Kerala. Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan intervened to pacify warring members from the neighbouring states.

Maitreyan said the action of the Kerala government in demanding the construction of a new dam in place of the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam was “tantamount to violating the Supreme Court order” in 2006, which had declared the dam as safe.

He said even the advocate general of Kerala had admitted recently that other dams like Idukki and Cheruthoni were capable of absorbing the waters of the Mullaperiyar dam in case of an emergency.

DMK leader Tiruchi Siva supported Maitreyan’s claim that the dam was safe. He said the Supreme Court observations were based on scientific studies and expert opinion.

P.J. Kurien, a Congress member from Kerala, said the Kerala government was demanding a new dam as more than three million people downstream of Mullapeiyar dam were living in fear.

A recent study by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, had said the dam could collapse if an earthquake of intensity more than five on the Richter scale ricked the area. There have been 26 tremors of varying degrees in the region in the past few months, Kurien added.

“I pray the dam is safe. But what about the people if something happens to the dam,” Kurien asked adding that this worry had made the state government press for a new dam.

T.N. Seema, Communist Party of India-Marxist member from Kerala, said people in the Mullaperiyar region were living in an atmosphere of fear and panic. “How long will they have to live like that,” he asked.

Raja said the prime minister should intervene in the issue immediately.

“The prime minister should play a proactive role,” he said. He should convene a meeting of the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and try for an amicable and peaceful solution, the CPI leader added.

The Mullaperiyar dam, located in the Idukki district of Kerala, was constructed in 1895 and its water is supplied to neighbouring Tamil Nadu as per an accord between the erstwhile Travancore king and the British rulers of India.

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