Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mullaperiyar Dam:A fight for safety and water

Two most burning topics of South India are Koodankulam nuclear power plant and the Mullaperiyar dam. What is common to both? - It's the fear of death!  When the Tamil Nadu government says that the Koodankulam nuclear plant is unsafe they do not  realize the fact that it's the same fear that prompts the people of Kerala to ask for a new dam. Instead, they are assuring safety to the Mullaperiyar dam. When an eminent scientist like Dr.A.P.J Abdul Kalam ascertains the safety of a nuclear plant(He is a Tamilian) how can the people of Kerala believe the words of Smt.Jayalalitha who doesn't have a scientific background at all? These two issues should have a common solution.
Apple of discord

1. How did this issue come out suddenly from out of the blue?

This issue was not created all of a sudden. It was in the news in 1970's. It broke out again in 2002. The real problem that caused this matter to emanate is the reports that the Minister for Water resources of Kerala P.J.Joseph obtained. The analysis conducted in the wake of intermittent tremors of magnitude 2 to 3(which can not be felt really) in the Idukki district of Kerala says that the Mullaperiyar Dam which has already developed cracks, can not withstand tremors of magnitude greater than 5.6 on the Richter scale. Unfortunately, the Idukki district falls in the earth-quake prone area. This report made a new solution to the the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.

2. Why are the governments not conducting an interstate talk on this?

The Kerala CM Oommen Chandy has expressed his will to conduct inter-state talks in the mediation of the central government. However, the Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha says that the matter is being studied by Justice Anand commission empowered by the H'able Supreme Court of India. She wants the report by the Anand Committee to come out.

3. Then why not wait for Anand Committe report?

The right to live is an inevitable right of every human being. When an issue of serious concern is hanging like the sword of Damocles any citizen has the right to protest for his/ her own safety. Even killing an attacker for self-protection is excused by the Indian penal code. No empowered committee can foresee the timing of a impending natural calamity. Either the committee should expedite its study on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue and submit report or the central government should call off the committee and take the initiative to find an amicable solution.

4. Is a new dam essential?

Yes. As per the reports the Mullaperiyar Dam can not withstand an earth quake of higher magnitude. The arguments that the Idukki dam would be able to hold the water in the Mullaperiyar Dam in case a disaster occurs is absurd because there are many families living in the area between the Mullaperiyar Dam and the Idukki dam. No one can predict the path of a huge overflow of inundated water. It will also take away the flora and fauna in that region. It will convert the affected area into a wet land. The very same farmers who are protesting against a new dam will face the consequences of water scarcity in case the Mullaperiyar Dam breaks. There is a global forum on safety of dams. The Rio De Jenera convention has came out with a precautionary principle which says that any dam if found unsafe can be decommissioned. The environmentalists in India including Medha Patkar supports a new dam.

5. Why the Cental government is not taking initiative?

The government at the centre is already envisaging a lot of allegations of bad administration and corruption. They take this issue in a political perspective. If they extend support to Kerala's genuine demand, they will lose 39 important Loksabha seats from Tamil Nadu. But since Kerala contributes just 20 seats to the centre it wouldn't make a significant change in the centre.  The ratio 39:20 is the mathematics behinds the political stand point.

6. Is violence a headache?

Yes. There are a lot of Keralites living in Tamil Nadu and there are a lot of Tamilians living in Kerala. Moreover, since this is a pilgrimage season to Sabarimala there is a huge inflow of devotees from Tamil Nadu to Kerala. In such a circumstance peaceful protests are advised. Violence will mar the cause. Some of the political parties with vested interest are fishing in troubled waters. They spread false notions amongst the people and get them provoked. They are taking advantage of the situation and creating unnecessary division between the people of the two states. The vandalism against the shopped owned by people belonging to a different state shows the negative face of regionalism. The overwhelming emotions should not result in hooliganism. They are publishing irrelevant news saying that the people of one state is being harassed and manhandled at the other state. Such divisive anti-social elements should be isolated.