Chandy slams Jayalalithaa’s varying stands on public safety

November 30th, 2011 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 30 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Wednesday slammed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa for the varying stands she has taken on public safety concerns over the leaking Mullaperiyar masonry dam in Kerala and the yet-to-come up Kudankulam nuclear power project in her state.

“It is surprising that Jayalalithaa has taken a tough stand on the genuine fears raised over the safety of Mullaperiyar Dam that has been pointed out by top experts. Her stand comes at a time when she has firmly opposed the Kudankulam project on account of safety of people,” said Chandy.

In a related development, the Kerala High Court asked the state government to give a report Thursday on steps being taken to minimise the possible danger to people living close to the 115-year-old earthen dam. Four petitions have been filed on the issue.

Chandy told reporters here that he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh again Thursday to take up the issue of the dam.

Asked if he was planning to meet Jayalalithaa, he said: “I have no qualms, if a need arises, to meet Jayalalithaa.”

“Kerala’s stand ‘water for Tamil Nadu and safety for Kerala’ has won wide applause and hence we can hold our head high because we are raising a very genuine need that this present dam has become unsafe and we want a new dam,” said Chandy.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerhead over the dam, built in Idukki district under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. While the dam is located in Kerala, its waters serve Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu wants the dam’s storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from 136 feet (41.5 metre) to 142 feet (43 metre) as the state’s irrigation needs have shot up.

Kerala is worried that a strong earthquake might damage the dam and cause widespread destruction and flooding. It is seeking a new dam and has offered to fund and build it. But Tamil Nadu does not agree.

Experts have pointed out that if a quake strikes the dam and it is damaged, people and property in districts of Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and parts of Thrissur would be washed away.

Chandy said he would speak to Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan if there was a need to call for an emergency session of the Kerala assembly to discuss the dam issue.

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