'Hogenakkal project not shelved, only put on hold'
Chennai, Apr 8: Asserting that there was no change in Tamil Nadu government's policy on the Hogenakkal Drinking Water project Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today said it has not been dropped but only put on hold to prevent bloodshed in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Addressing a press conference here, he 1ook a dig at the Opposition AIADMK and MDMK which had alleged that the DMK government had betrayed the people of Tamil Nadu and said there was no change in the state's policy on the issue.
Responding to the Opposition's charge that he had unilaterally announced the decision to put the project on hold without consulting the Assembly, Mr Karunanidhi said since the House had a three-day holiday, he was not able to announce it in the Assembly. "Moreover it was not a policy changing decision-as claimed by the Opposition", he said and added "It's about a project".
''I had never said in my speeches or in statements that the Hogenakkal project had been dropped'', he asserted and described as a ''joke'', the AIADMK and its ally MDMK's charge that he had betrayed the people of the state by shelving the project.On Ms Jayalalithaa's contention that the Hogenakkal project had no links with the ensuing Assembly polls in Karnataka, Mr Karunanidhi said the concern for Tamils had prompted him to put the project on hold. ''Definitely, the Hogenakkal proejct is the right of Tamil Nadu,'' he said, that it was not shelved as claimed by the opposition.
The Project Management Consultant had been appointed and the Tenders were called in February this year. The tenders were opened last month and the project plan would be finalised by July this year and it would be completed by December 2012.
Observing that there was bound to be violence during elections even in peaceful states, Mr Karunanidhi said the seeds of violence have already been sown in Karnataka and the security of the voters, candidates and poll officials would be at risk. "Moreover some forces in Karnataka were inimical and allergic to Tamils. Only to save the Tamils living in Karnataka and to protect their life and property, as a true Tamilian, I am forced to make such an announcement," he added.
Mr Karunanidhi also denied the Opposition charge that he had put the project on hold expecting a berth in the Union Cabinet for her poetess-daughter and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi.
When asked about this, he said ''I don't know who has that power in Karnataka to give a Union Cabinet post to Ms Kanimozhi.'' On former Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna's remark that he would move the Supreme court on the Hogenakkal project, he said Mr Krishna spoke to him on April five and clarified the position. 'He also told me not to believe the media reports.''
Mr Karunanidhi expressed concern over the divergent views expressed by national parties on the Hogenakkal project and said if the States ruled by national parties did not respect the sentiments of the neighbouring states, it would endanger the country's unity, integrity and sovereignty. On the walkout by the Opposition AIADMK and its ally MDMK demanding suspension of the Question Hour to discuss the issue in the Assembly, Mr Karunanidhi said he was not averse to a discussion.
The Question Hour could be suspended only after moving an unanimous resolution on the House. "Even if one member says no, the House has to abide by it and cannot suspend the Question Hour,'' he pointed out." As per Assembly rules, any member who wished to raise any issue or a privilege issue can do so only after the Question Hour.
But Ms Jayalalithaa, who attends the Assembly rarely, wanted to raise a Privilege issue and demanded suspension of Question Hour,'' he added.
Though the Speaker said she could raise the issue after the Question hour and an explanation would be given from the Government, Ms Jayalalithaa, without waiting for one hour, staged a walkout and made some defamatory remarks against the government outside the Assembly.
Accusing Ms Jayalalithaa of being in a habit of flouting Assembly rules, he said those who believe in democracy and follow the Assembly traditions were watching it. Charging Ms Jayalalithaa with betraying the people on the Sethusamduram Shipping Channel Project, Mr Karunanidhi said in each of her party's manifesto she had claimed that the project was brought by her. 'But the same Jayalalithaa has now totally dropped it and has moved the Supreme court against it,'' he added.