In a scathing attack on Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the manner in which he is handling the vexed issue of the leaking Mullaperiyar dam, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan on Saturday remarked that Vijayan is hand in glove with Tamil Nadu, which is aiming to raise the water level to 152 feet.
Satheesan attacked Vijayan at the 24-hour fast protest launched by Idukki Lok Sabha Congress member Dean Kuriakose, near the dam site at Cheruthonni, demanding that permission be granted to build a new dam in place of the leaking one which is now 126 years old.
Satheesan, inaugurating the 24-hour fast, recalled a protest of the then Left Democratic Front opposition on December 8, 2011 when Oommen Chandy was the chief minister.
“Vijayan along with then Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan was part of human chain that was formed which saw lakhs taking part in the 208 km stretch from near the Mullaperiyar dam site to the Arabian sea at Kochi and took a pledge demanding a new dam at Mullaperiyar replacing the then 116 years old leaking Mullaperiyar dam. And see what’s he saying now, he says the dam is safe and is hand in glove with Tamil Nadu, who are demanding raising the water level to 152 feet,” said Satheesan.
“We all saw on what happened when permission was granted to cut trees to strengthen the baby dam at Mullaperiyar. We have two State Ministers (Water Resources Minister, Forest Minister) who have no clue of what’s happening in their department, as all decisions are taken by Vijayan. We are also seeing the way Tamil Nadu is opening the shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam without following the rules and none in Kerala government is bothered about it and we all heard a statement that Vijayan has written a letter to his counterpart in Tamil Nadu. Is this the way this serious issue has to be tackled?” asked Satheesan.
Incidentally this protest is taking place when in the Lok Sabha the other day Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Bishweswar Tudu said in a written reply that there is a report titled ‘Ageing Water Storage Infrastructure: An Emerging Global Risk’ published in the 11th Series Report of the United Nations University-Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) which has mentioned certain safety concerns of the Mullaperiyar dam.
He however, sought to allay fears about the safety of the dam, stating that through inspections, investigations, tests and studies, the health of a dam can be evaluated. Various instruments, which are installed in the dam, provide relevant information on the safety conditions of a dam. Pre and post-monsoon inspections are generally carried out by the dam owning agencies every year.
The dam has been a bone of contention between Kerala – where the dam is located – and Tamil Nadu, which owns the dam as per the old lease agreement.