Home India Politics Opposition will raise funds to build new dam: Achuthanandan

Opposition will raise funds to build new dam: Achuthanandan


Idukki (Kerala) : With a by-election to the Kerala assembly to be held soon, Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan Wednesday said his Left Democratic Front (LDF) will raise funds from the people to build a new Mullaperiyar Dam.

“The time is up and the LDF is prepared to raise the entire money from the people to build a new dam. We will raise the entire money if neither Tamil Nadu or the centre is willing to chip in,” Achuthanandan said.

“We will build the dam and for that either the apex court or the centre should allow us. The money can be raised by just giving a call (to the people),” said Achuthanandan, who arrived here with other LDF leaders for an on-the-spot study of the fears of those who live around the leaking Mullaperiyar Dam.

The Piravom constituency, where the by-election is expected to be held soon, is in Ernakulam district, which is also under threat if the dam gets damaged. The bypoll was necessitated after the sitting legislator and food and civil supplies minister T.M. Jacob passed away last month.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerhead over the Mullaperiyar Dam, built in Idukki under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj.

While the dam is located in Kerala, its waters serve Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu wants the dam’s storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from 136 feet (41.5 m) to 142 feet (43 m) as the state’s irrigation needs have shot up.

Kerala, worried that a strong earthquake might damage the dam and cause widespread destruction, is seeking a new dam and has offered to fund and build it. But Tamil Nadu does not agree.

Achuthanandan said that nowhere in the world is there a dam which is as old as the Mullaperiyar Dam.

“Tamil Nadu is using the water from the dam for producing vegetables and even drinking. They also use it to make electricity,” he said.

“But our people in nearly five districts live in perpetual fear. This has increased after numerous tremors have hit the area in and around the dam,” he added.

Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and parts of Thrissur district would be washed away if the leaking masonry dam breaks.

Achuthanandan lashed out at Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, saying he should prevail upon the central government to pressurise Tamil Nadu to give a nod to Kerala to build a new dam.

“He said he has full faith in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and we would like to know what steps they have taken to settle the issue,” the former Marxist chief minister said.

“It was we who took a firm stand when Tamil Nadu demanded the water level in the Mullaperiyar Dam should be raised to 142-152 feet and because of that the water level was fixed at 136 feet,” he added.

Meanwhile, the weekly cabinet meeting to be held in Thiruvananthapuram is expected to call an emergency one-day sitting of the Kerala assembly in the first week of December to discuss the issue.

A team led by state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala also reached the dam site.

“The Tamil Nadu government should come forward for an out of the court settlement. We are for conciliation and consensus and we wish Tamil Nadu also takes such a stand. We are told that the prime minister has started talks to find a solution in this issue,” he said.