Three southern states locked in water dispute

In May this year, the Supreme Court ruled that water up to 142 feet could be stored in the Mullaperiyar dam.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published:November 19, 2014 2:05 am

Tuesday saw major developments in dam disputes involving Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Mohan Verghese Chungath wrote to his Kerala counterpart, seeking action against Kerala MLA E S Bijimol, who allegedly led a group that attacked PWD engineers at the Mullaperiyar dam site. A few hours later, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam issued a statement on the state’s decision to move Supreme Court to stall Karnataka’s construction of two proposed dams across Cauvery river.

In May this year, the Supreme Court ruled that water up to 142 feet could be stored in the Mullaperiyar dam. A section of Kerala politicians, however, claim it is not safe for the 116-year-old dam to hold that much water. On Monday evening, a group led by CPI MLA Bijimol entered the dam site without permission. During the ensuing argument, journalists accompanying Bijmol reportedly manhandled officials.

Panneerselvam on Tuesday said the Mullaperiyar dispute was a ‘settled’ one. Meanwhile, officials and ministers visited the dam site to ensure safety of local residents. The Idukki district administration also issued statements that they were prepared to meet a critcal situation.

Notably, Kerala opposition leader V S Achuthanandan had last week urged the state government to seek SC intervention in the dispute after the water level crossed 136 feet, which Kerala claims  to be the ‘danger mark’. On Saturday, Kerala moved the apex court on the issue, while CM Oommen Chandy wrote to Paneerselvam for reducing the water level. In his reply, the Tamil Nadu CM said both states must follow the SC verdict.

Meanwhile, Tamil farmers from delta districts are protesting against Karnataka water resources minister M B Patil’s remark that the state plans to build two reservoirs across the Cauvery. CM Panneerselvam on Tuesday announced that his government is moving SC to seek a stay on these projects.

Coordinator of Cauvery Rights Retrieval committee explained that the dam projects would affect thousands of farmers in the region. “They are planning to build two dams near Megadatu, across the Cauvery river, to store 48 TMC of water. This will have a huge impact on our lives and eventually turn the delta districts into a desert,” he said.

Also, farmers from the southern districts of Tamil Nadu are opposing another dam project by Kerala, across Pambar river. The protesters say the project, if implemented, would have a huge impact on farm lands in Tirupur and Karur districts.

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