Karunanidhi clarifies on Hogenakkal project; AIADMK walks out

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Chennai, Apr 8 (UNI) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today asserted that the DMK Government has not shelved the Hogenakkal drinking water project in the face of protests from Karnataka, even as the Opposition AIADMK staged a noisy walkout in the State Assembly after party leader J Jayalalithaa made a vain bid to raise the issue.

Minutes after Ms Jayalalithaa led her men out after Speaker R Avudaiyappan denied her permission to raise the issue before the start of the question hour, the Chief Minister accused her of trying to cast aspersions on the Government and give an impression that the Government had shelved the project.

Ms Jayalalithaa, who was not attending the Assembly, sprang a surprise by turning up at 0905 hrs, much before the start of the proceedings.

After the Speaker read out a couplet, she demanded that the Speaker adjourn the proceedings and allow her to raise the Hogenakkal issue.

When the Speaker denied her permission, stating that she could be allowed to raise the issue only after question hour, Ms Jayalalithaa and her colleagues, after shouting slogans against the Government, walked out of the House.

Later talking to newspersons, she said there was nothing wrong in raising the issue before the question hour as even in Parliament, issues of importance were allowed to be raised before question hour.

Taking exception to this, Mr Karunanidhi, talking to newspersons in his chamber, said the Leader of the Opposition could not wait for an hour as she was in a hurry. Instead of raising the issue after the question hour, she staged a walkout and levelled ''baseless'' charges against the Government outside the House.

He said the Government never shelved the Hogenakkal drinking water project, but only put it on hold in the interests of people in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu till Assembly elections were over in the neighbouring State.

Taking a dig at the Opposition parties, including the AIADMK and its ally, the MDMK, which had alleged that the DMK Government had betrayed the people of Tamil Nadu, he said there was no change in the State's policy on the issue. The DMK Government only chose to wait till a new Government was formed in Karnataka after next month's elections, he clarified.

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