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Mullaperiyar Dam: War over water reaches Parliament

Nov 29, 2011 12:30 AM IST Politics Politics
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The Kerala MPs claim that the dam would be a compromise with the safety of the people of the state while Tamil Nadu rules out any safety issues concerning the MD. Both the states now want the Centre to intervene and decide on the matter. Following is the full transcript of the discussion with Congress MP from Kerala Jose K Mani and seniour journalist Cho Ramaswamy on the issue: Rajdeep Sardesai:The Mullaperiyar Dam Row with the latest war. Will water wars end up dividing states? That’s our next talking point here today. Lets go straight with Jose K Mani member of Parliament of the Kerala Congress one of those who are protesting outside Parliament, to give us the Kerala perspective, also to give us the Tamil Nadu perspective the journalist Cho Ramaswamy from Chennai is with us. First to you Mr Mani. Rajdeep Sardesai: The question which is being asked is ‘why is Kerala is raising alarm bells all of a sudden’? What has happened so suddenly to virtually create the situation and be so alarmist as it dam is about to collapse. Jose K Mani: As you know the dam is almost 115 years old and they have used those days old technologies, the lime Surkhi concrete. And what happened recently, in last four months there has been more than 23 times tremors over there, and minor earthquakes. The IIT Roorkee had made a study and said that there could be the ritcher scale magnitude will go up to 6.5, if it goes beyond 6.5 the dam cannot hold, it will collapse. And it will affect the life of almost more than 30 lakh people. Rajdeep Sardesai:Mr Mani these are arguments that have been made in the past as well. The Supreme Court in 2006 allowed the dam’s height to be raised to 142 feet. Are you saying that the Supreme Court got it wrong? You know why, I come back to it, is there a element of scare mongering that you are scaring people for some reason. Jose K Mani: No, the thing is that I told it earlier, that recently in last four months there has been number of earthquakes, tremors were almost numbering to 23 and water rushing out. That has made us alarming and we have asked for a out-of-court settlement though the matter is in the Supreme Court. Now the matter is what Tamil Nadu wants water, we are not against that. As you said at the outset, it is not for the fight for water, we don’t want a top of water. The government of Kerala said that not even the top of water would be reduced what they are enjoying now. Now they want water and we want safety for our people. Rajdeep Sardesai:Ok you make a good point Mr Mani , Joe respond to that. Kerala slogan is water for Tamil Nadu and safety for Kerala. Kerala is assuring Tamil Nadu that it will get the water why the apprehension than on the Tamil Nadu side to the point where you even band the film on the Dam. Cho Ramaswamy: Well they are assuring the water to Tamil Nadu and Tamil Nadu is assuring safety to them. They said the dam is quit safe. The Supreme Court has said so. If they have one report saying that in case of major earthquake, which has never happened in the area, a major earthquake, the dam will burst. The Tamil Nadu has enough reports which say the dam is quit safe. It can be raised up to 142 feet. Even the Supreme Court has agreed with it .To over commit, Kerala also passed its own legislation, and all of sudden they are saying that they are acting under that which is contempt of court. Rajdeep Sardesai: But Mr Ramaswami what’s the harm in having a face-to-face meeting between Kerala and Tamil Nadu representatives. Kerala says a new dam should be build to address the issue, Tamil Nadu is silent on it. Cho Ramaswamy: It’s a damn sure things to do talking face to face and it has to be done. It was done earlier but with no result. See whether it is Kaveri, whether it is Mullaperiyar, these talk go on and go on, each side sticks to its own stand. There is no compromise solution. Rajdeep Sardesai: So, water belongs doesn’t belong to one state or other the water is national resource, safety should be top priority. The point is why make a water war of this kind escalate to the point where it is creating friction between Tamil Nadu and Kerala Mr Ramaswamy. Cho Ramaswamy: Well, first of all Tamil Nadu is not the state which started it , they didn’t raise an alarm. They only wanted to raise the dam issue which is there at the right. Earlier decided that, that the Kerala government has been refusing and posing in so loss to overcome even the Supreme Court judgment , what can the state of Tamil Nadu do and how can they be blamed for that. Rajdeep Sardesai: Mr Mani are you in contempt of court given what the Supreme Court said in 2006, I mean why not wait for court verdict. Jose K Mani: No that’s why there was the dispute, that’s why the empowered committee has been placed. That means whatever report has come that there is some flow is there that why the dispute has come. So that why Supreme Court has come forward to put a committee, the report is pending. Rajdeep Sardesai: So so, why not wait for the report to be complete. Jose K Mani: Let me complete that is upto February 2012 but why it is alarming now what I said during the Monsoon season the water raises up to 136 feet and more over last to four month there has been tremors more than 23 times and the study of Roorkee says that if the ritcher magnitude goes more than 6.5 the dam will collapse and this area(kerala) is under zone three, that the study mention that. And every likelihood, it will go beyond 6.5 reaches scale the magnitude and that will collapse. No what is Tamil Nadu want to, what is the apprehension? Whether we will not give water? We are saying that at our expense, we will build dam and we will give you water. Rajdeep Sardesai: Kerala says that at their expense they will build a new dam. Is that the solution? Again I will come back safety for Kerala and water for Tamil Nadu. Cho Ramaswamy: See what is that Tamil Nadu is assuring and a state which is capable of enacting its own law to subvert a Supreme Court order can it be believed to stick to its word. What guarantee is there that they will not pose another law which says that no, don’t give water to Tamil Nadu. Now the dam is under the control of Tamil Nadu that is what the Kerala government does not like. Rajdeep Sardesai: Are you saying this the battle is basically who should control the water. It is not about issues of safety its not about other issues. It’s only about who should control the water whether Tamil Nadu control it in the dam at the moment or whether in the future a new dam should be control by Kerala. Is that what is boiling down to you. Cho Ramaswamy: Yes the present situation is that the Tamil Nadu has the control under the existing agreement. It was okayed in 1970 or so by the Acchhutanandan government. And now the Kerala government is not happy with it they want control of it. Tamil Nadu is not willing for that. Just to intervene, in my opinion, the Centre must intervene in all these disputes. Whether it is Kaveri whether it is Mullaperiyar, the Centre must have the courage to intervene and give the decision and get it implemented. Rajdeep Sardesai: Will that decision be respected. Mr Mani, will you respect any decision that Centre takes? Your MPs have today gone and protested it in Parliament and have gone to the Prime Minister. Will you respect a decision that Centre takes? Jose K Mani: Exactly that I am coming to the point. We have met the Prime Minister, we have said the chief minister of both state are brought together and out of court settlement and conciliation should be done. You know that Kerala is so magnanimous, it is the dam in Kerala and the water is given to Coimbatore, if you say Parambikulam, it is the water fully for the Tamil Nadu. Rajdeep Sardesai: Will you accept any decision that centre takes? If the Centre says no new dam, will you accept it? Jose K Mani: See the thing is when we have talked to the people over there the ministers, they are convinced of the fact that the dam is in danger and what is the decision based on that, let them take, if they want people not be there in Kerala it is fine. But how can take a decision like that. So what I am saying is our brothers are in Tamil Nadu, lots of Tamilians are there in Erike area in catchment area. We respect them we don’t want to publicise this issue at all. We want the Centre to intervene and come to amicable settlement. For that Tamil Nadu should agree to come together. That is the point we want to make. Rajdeep Sardesai: Cho Ramaswamy final word want to you. Jaylalithaa has been rather silent on this issue. She speaks out more on other issues. Why is Jaylalithaa silent on this? Cho Ramaswamy: No she has spoken to the Prime Minister and Prime Minister as usual has said ‘yes’ to Kerala and ‘yes’ to Tamil Nadu and there is no problem as far as he is concerned. He says ‘yes I will look after Kerala’ he says ‘yes I will look at Tamil Nadu’. That is what he has done and that is she has on her table and I don’t think the fact that the Tamilians live in Kerala and Keralians live in Tamil Nadu. That is immaterial, they are all Indians. They live everywhere. Rajdeep Sardesai: Ok point taken Cho Ramaswamy, Mr Mani appreciate your joining us . What has become an unfortunately contentious issue Mullaperiyar and Water Wars.

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