Seeking 'fee' to release water ridiculous:minister vents ire

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Chennai, Nov 11 (UNI) Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister Duraimurugan today flayed the Left Democratic Front(LDF) government in Kerala for demanding money for releasing water from Neyyar river for irrigation at Vilabankode taluk in Kanniyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

Replying to a special call attention on the issue, the minister said it was ridiculous on the part of Kerala to demand ''cost for water'' to release water from the inter-state river, that too when the people of Vilavankode enjoyed the riparian rights.

He said after the previous Congress regime Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, the present Left government there had adopted a resolution in the assembly, empowering the state to decide the water levels in various dams, including Mullai Periyar and collect money for release of water.

As per the resolution, the Kerala government had demanded that Tamil Nadu must pay money for getting water from Neyyar and insisted that it sign an agreement with Kerala, agreeing for ''cost for water'', Mr Duraimurugan said.

Describing the demand of ''cost for water'' as dangerous, the minister said ''if we agree to this, it will amount to forefeiting our rights over the inter-state rivers. This will also embolden Kerala to demand money for release of water from rivers like Parambikulam Aliyar and Mullaiperiyar.

He said the Kerala government had stopped release of water for the last four years and when Chief Minister M Karunanidhi wrote to his Kerala counterpart Achuthanandan, in October last year, requesting him to release water, the Kerala government did not bother to reply.

The Kerala Chief Minister did not have the courtesy to reply to Mr Karunanidhi. Instead, the Kerala Chief Secretary wrote to Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, demanding that Tamil Nadu reach an agreement with Kerala on this issue.

Mr Duraimurugan said only after persistent demand, the Kerala government had sent the draft agreement. The state government would study the draft and if necessary, he himself would lead a delegation to Kerala to resolve the issue, Mr Duraimurugan said.

UNI WS VV SY KN1637

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