N.K. Premachandran Says Tamil Nadu’s objections are politically motivated
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Minister for Water Resources N.K. Premachandran on Friday disputed the contention of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi that the clearance granted by the Centre for the survey and investigation on a new dam across the Mullaperiyar in Kerala was sub judice.
The Minister told journalists that the case before the Supreme Court (filed by Tamil Nadu in 2006) was one seeking annulment of the Schedule of the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act (and not related to the question of a new dam). Besides, the new dam was proposed 1,300 feet downstream of the existing dam and was outside the area covered under the Periyar lease agreement. So, no breach of contractual obligation was involved.
He said the survey on the proposed dam was started two years ago, and the survey of seven kilometres along the Mullaperiyar had already been completed. The clearance was for the continuation of the survey into the Tiger Reserve area. The sub-divisional office for the survey was inaugurated with much fanfare two years ago and Tamil Nadu had not objected to it at that time. Its present objections were motivated by political factors.
He added that the Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had given a statutory clearance only for the survey and investigation. Hence, the campaign by Tamil Nadu against the Union Minister was meaningless. The construction of the new dam would require clearance from various agencies, including the Central Water Commission and the green Bench of the Supreme Court.
He said Tamil Nadu should withdraw its objection, as even the feasibility of a new dam would be known only after the survey and investigation. Referring to the case filed by Tamil Nadu before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, he said Kerala would ask the court for time to file counter. The original petition filed by Tamil Nadu in 2006 would come up for hearing on October 20.
Mr. Premachandran said Kerala had stated in its application for clearance for the survey that the existing dam at Mullaperiyar was 113 years old, weak and could cause serious disaster in future. The Union government had agreed with its stand in this regard for the first time.