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Vaiko to lead rally on Mullaiperiyar issue

Written by: Staff
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Chennai, Sep 10: MDMK General Secretary Vaiko will lead a ''Mullaiperiyar Rights Protection Rally'' in Madurai on September 19 to protect the interests of Tamil Nadu on the inter-state dam dispute with Kerala.

In a statement here, he said this would be the first phase of the rally to protect the interest of five districts for which water from the Mullaiperiyar dam was the main source for irrigation.

He said about two lakh acres of land in the southern districts of Madurai, Theni, Dindugul, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram were depending on the dam for irrigation.

Mr Vaiko alleged that though eminent experts have allayed fears of any threat to the dam either by earthquake or by any other means, the Kerala government, with the sole aim of denying water to Tamil Nadu, had approached the Prime Minister to seek a review of the dam.

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz had assured the All-party delegation led by Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan that the Centre would look into the issue and review it.

This had caused a lot of heartburn among the farmers in southern districts, Mr Vaiko said and added that the rally was to draw the attention of the Central and State governments to protect the rights of the farmers.

The rally was also to create an awareness among the public on the dangerous situation emerging on the issue, he added.

Alleging that the Kerala government had been taking various illegal steps during the last 30 years to deny water to the state, Mr Vaiko said in 1979 a committee headed by then Union Water Resources Minister K C Thomas had confirmed that the Dam was good and there was no threat to it after Kerala raised doubts about its stability.

The committee also said works to further strengthen the dam could be taken up by restricting the storage level to 136 ft till the completion of the first phase.

It also said the storage level could be raised to 145 ft after the second phase of works and then to its original level of 152 ft after all the works were completed and the Kerala governemnt too agreed to it.

Even after the entire dam strengthening works were completed, the Kerala government had been posing obstacles to raise the storage level to 152 ft, Mr Vaiko said.

''It is a matter of concern that Tamil Nadu has been losing 13.5 tmc of water per year and 80,000 acres of irrigated land suffered for want of water because of not increasing the storage level from the present 136 ft. The water was stored in the dam to a level of 152 ft till 1977'', he pointed out.

Mr Vaiko said the Kerala government had again raised apprehensions about the safety of the dam by stating that an earthquake, measuring 2.1 on the Richter scale, had occurred near the dam on August 18 and urged the Prime Minister to hand over the administration, maintenance and functioning of the dam to Kerala government.

At a time when the farmers in riparian states were suffering following the vexed Cauvery river water issue, losing the state's rights on the Mullaiperiyar dam issue, would turn the southern districts into a ''desert'' and cause untold misery to the farmers.

He also criticised the Kerala government for not implementing the Supreme Court's order to raise the storage level to 142 ft even after the court dismissed the appeal filed by Kerala.

''Not accepting the Apex court's verdict and passing a resolution in the Assembly that the Kerala government has every right to take decisions on the dam issue is violative of the 999 year lease agreement entered into by the erstwhile British government and the Travancore King on October 29, 1886'', Mr Vaiko said.

UNI

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