Mullaperiyar dam: PC’s remarks stirs hornet`s nest

Union Home Minister Chidambaram had termed Kerala`s apprehension over safety of the Mullaperiyar dam as "unnecessary" and linked it to "bypoll fear".

Updated: Dec 17, 2011, 21:51 PM IST

Chennai/Thiruvanathapuram: Union Home
Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday termed Kerala`s apprehension over
safety of the Mullaperiyar dam as "unnecessary" and linked it
to "bypoll fear", setting off strong protests from Kerala with
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy saying he would complain to the
Congress high command.
"It is an unnecessary fear. It is not even a temporary or
a permanent fear. It is only a bypoll fear," Chidambaram said
in the midst of the ongoing war of words between Tamil Nadu
and Kerala on the dam issue.

Chidambaram, who was apparently referring to the upcoming
Assembly bypoll to Piravom constituency in Kerala, said the
problem would not have arisen if the Election Commission had
conducted the bypoll to the seat, suggesting the issue had
been raked up for political reasons.

Speaking at a function in Chennai, Chidambaram also said
"the dam was built for Tamil Nadu and the water from it is
meant for us...for the five districts in Tamil Nadu. If they
(Kerala) fear it will collapse, we too have the responsibility
to protect it," he said.

Chidambaram`s comments drew the ire of leaders of both
Congress-led UDF and CPIM-headed LDF from Kerala.
"The first thing that we are going to do is to complain
to the high command.We will convey the protest of the
Government and the party (state unit) against Chidambaram`s
statement," Chandy told reporters at Kottayam.

He said Kerala had never taken a "unilateral stand" on
the issue without consulting others.

Hitting out at Chidambaram, Kerala Water Resources
Minister P J Joseph demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
drop Chidambaram from the Union cabinet as his speech amounted
to "breach of oath" taken while joining the office.

KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala termed Chidambaram`s
statement as "extremely unfortunate", while CPI(M) veteran V S
Achuthanandan wanted him to be dropped from the Cabinet.

In his remarks at a Chennai function to celebrate the
66th birthday of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Chidambaram
said the Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee, which is
going into the issue, would submit its report by February 2012
and he hoped that the outcome would be favourable to Tamil
Nadu.

"Based on the reports of experts and information
available, I sincerely hope that a favourable order will be
given to Tamil Nadu by Supreme Court...," he said.

Chidambaram said till the apex court gives its verdict
on the dam issue by February or March 2012, the people of two
states should maintain calm and peace.

"It is the responsibility of the Centre to allay the
fears of Kerala people which it will do. Besides, the Centre
will also take steps to protect the dam. When these two duties
are done, we will get a good verdict. Till then, we need to
show maturity and maintain calm...," he said.

PTI