TN puts on hold Hogenakkal project till K'taka polls

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Chennai, Apr 5: The Tamil Nadu Government today put on hold the Rs 1,334 crore Hogenakkal drinking water project till the Karnataka Assembly elections in the wake of escalating violence in both States following Karnataka's opposition to it.

Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, in an official release here, said, ''Let us observe peace for the time being with the hope that the new Government in Karnataka will understand the just cause of Tamil Nadu. We will urge the new Government in Karnataka to abide by the 1998 agreement between the two states on the project and hope that we will get justice.'' The project, envisaged to supply drinking water to the parched districts of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri where fluoride content in water was high, had been facing many stumbling blocks ever since the foundation stone for the project was laid on February 26 last by Mr Karunanidhi.

Mr Karunanidhi called for tolerance during the brief period till the President's rule in Karnataka was lifted and a popular Government was installed. ''Let bygones be bygones. Let whatever happens in the future be for the good,'' he said, adding ''let us put ourselves in the forefront of this peace march.'' Recalling the various steps taken by the Government on the matter, the Chief Minister thanked all parties, organisations and individuals who had supported the cause and backed the Government's stand. He made a special mention of the token fast undertaken by the Tamil film industry yesterday to highlight the cause.

Mr Karunanidhi warned that if the new Government in Karnataka too tried to stall the project, the Tamils will not lose their self-respect even if they lose their life and property. Appealing to the people to exercise restraint, he said he was raising his voice as one among those with self-respect to put an end to violent incidents and hoping for cooperation from the new government.

''Let the elections get over first. We will hold talks and if needed, we will enter the battlefield,'' Mr Karunanidhi thundered, hoping that there would not be any such need and the nation's integrity would be protected.

Asserting that ''justice will prevail,'' the Chief Minister wondered whether Karnataka, which had been denying Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu for irrigation, would deny water to protect the lives of people as well. ''Will Karnataka get a new government that will deny water to Tamil Nadu for drinking purpose also,'' he asked.

Recalling the violent incidents on both sides of the border on the issue over the last few days, he said those who believe in the nation's sovereignty, unity and integrity would not accept permanent enmity between the two brotherly states. As election fever had gripped Karnataka, such unsavoury incidents should not recur, he said categorically

The issue took a political turn when Karnataka BJP President B S Yeddyurappa visited Hogenakkal with his supporters to oppose the project on the ground that the area belonged to Karnataka.

It snowballed into a major inter-state issue, with former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna petitioning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh accusing Mr Karunanidhi of instigating violence by stating that the project would be implemented at any cost.

The pro-Kannada outfits took up cudgels against the project and started attacking Tamils and their belongings in Karnataka, trigerring retaliatory attacks in the State.

As the opposition mounted, the Tamil Nadu Assembly twice passed unanimous resolutions, seeking Centre's intervention to ensure the implementation of the project and protect the country's integrity.

The Congress in Karnataka had sought the Centre to convince Tamil Nadu to postpone implementation of the project till Assembly elections in the state.
Mr Karunanidhi warned that if the new Government in Karnataka too tried to stall the project, the Tamils will not lose their self-respect even if they lose their life and property. Appealing to the people to exercise restraint, he said he was raising his voice as one among those with self-respect to put an end to violent incidents and hoping for cooperation from the new government.


''Let the elections get over first. We will hold talks and if needed, we will enter the battlefield,'' Mr Karunanidhi thundered, hoping that there would not be any such need and the nation's integrity would be protected.

Asserting that ''justice will prevail,'' the Chief Minister wondered whether Karnataka, which had been denying Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu for irrigation, would deny water to protect the lives of people as well. ''Will Karnataka get a new government that will deny water to Tamil Nadu for drinking purpose also,'' he asked.

Recalling the violent incidents on both sides of the border on the issue over the last few days, he said those who believe in the nation's sovereignty, unity and integrity would not accept permanent enmity between the two brotherly states. As election fever had gripped Karnataka, such unsavoury incidents should not recur, he said categorically

UNI

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