Mullaperiyar dam: Tamil Nadu rejoices, Kerala loses out

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued an order allowing the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam to be raised to 142 feet, bringing much praise from political leaders in Tamil Nadu. The order, however, puts Kerala on the losing end and triggered protests from the locals as well as the ruling Congress-led UDF.

In Tamil Nadu, DMK president Karunanidhi hailed the verdict and told reporters that the court asked Kerala not to construct a new dam. Earlier, Kerala demanded that a new dam be built in place of the existing 117-year-old one in Mullaperiyar, claiming it was unsafe for the surrounding areas.

AIADMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha said she was immensely happy over the apex court decision and dedicated the victory to the people of Tamil Nadu. “It (verdict) will sustain the livelihood of the farmers in the southern districts and the people of the state,” she said.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, however, did not have much reason to rejoice. He said Kerala would stand by its original commitment to ensure the safety of its own people, as well as provide water for Tamil Nadu. He added that the state cabinet would discuss the issue in detail.

CPM veteran and Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan took the opportunity to criticise the UDF, saying that the Congress-led front failed to effectively represent the interests of people to the Supreme Court.

In Chappath in Idukki district, Mullaperiyar Action Council activists called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal across the state to protest the verdict. Fr Joy Nirappel, chairman of the action council, told reporters in Idukki that the verdict failed to address people’s concerns. “We will intensify the opposition against any move to raise the water level of the dam and also seek support from across political lines,” he said.

The Congress-led ruling UDF also called for a hartal in Idukki district on Thursday, with the opposition CPM lining up its own plans for agitation.

Kerala’s Minister for Water Resources P J Joseph said the state government would continue talking to legal experts and devise a fresh course of action to tackle the issue. He added that a review petition was being considered.

Meanwhile, DMDK politician and actor Vijayakanth, the leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, expressed his approval of the verdict. He said the Tamil Nadu government should act judiciously and that Kerala should extend its full support.

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