Mullaperiyar: Politicos join forces to support Kerala hartal

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Mullaperiyar dam satellite image
Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 18: With the Mullaperiyar dam issue that was turning out to be an inter-state conflict going through an intermittent lull, the matter is all set to be back in the limelight. With the Kerala side not pleased with the Centre's rhetoric and stand over the issue, they have declared a state-wide Kerala hartal in protest today (Jan 18).

With the empowered high-power committee appointed by the Supreme Court citing that the dam was safe and there was no threat whatsoever on the life of the dam, political parties in Kerala intends to take the matter to the next level.

The Kerala Congress (M), KC(M) which was at the forefront of protests earlier have joined in the protests, with the Left parties also seizing the opportunity to keep the burning issue alive in the public space. The ruling UDF government has not revealed their stand on the issue and chosen to take a wait-and-watch approach on the issue.

The hartal was first announced by the Mullaperiyar Samara Samithi, with the KC(M) later offering moral support to the cause. The LDF district committee also lend their support to the issue later. The surprising matter is that the samara samithi has been carrying out a stir since the last 5 years at Chappath in Idukki district where the Mullaperiyar dam is located.

Ex-MP, K Francis George has been quoted as saying, "The high-power committee of the Kerala Congress will meet before January 30 and decide on the course of action on the Mullaperiyar issue. The political affairs committee chaired by Jose K Mani MP has given the message of supporting the hartal."

He added, "We have followed the request of the Prime Minister to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiations on the issue. But not much progress has been made in this direction."

Water Resources Minister P J Joseph, another vocal Minister on the issue said, "The matter should be brought to the attention of the Prime Minister once again. Kerala cannot wait any more. I had taken the initiative. The future course of action will be decided by the party. It is hoped that the report will be favourable to Kerala. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has also affirmed that the court decision will be approved. In that case, it is easy for the two states to reach an agreement. We don’t want a confrontation."

The SC appointed committee is expected to submit its report after Jan 26.

On the searing Mullaperiyar issue, Kerala CM Oommen Chandy had stated earlier, "That Kerala’s stance is reasonable has gained wide acceptance at all levels. We are pinning our hopes on the court, since we’ve taken the stand that supply of Mullaperiyar water to Tamil Nadu will be ensured while not compromising on the safety of people in Kerala for which a new dam was necessary. Kerala will follow a prudent approach without falling prey to emotions."

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