Mullaperiyar dam: TN border areas stay normal

The border areas in this Tamil Nadu district showed some signs of normalcy as police continued a close vigil.

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2011, 21:11 PM IST

Theni (TN): After four days of volatile
situation sparked by repeated attempts by villagers to cross
into Kerala on the Mullaperiyar dam issue, the border areas in
this Tamil Nadu district showed some signs of normalcy as
police continued a close vigil.

Bus services, crippled by the protests, resumed while
most business establishments and educational institutions
started functioning, bringing relief to the Jayalalithaa
government a day ahead of the special assembly session on the
dam issue.
The session is expected to pass a resolution that the
state will not give up its rights over the dam due to
`imaginary threats` about its safety and security.

The DMK organised its second phase of protest on the
issue holding a human chain in five southern districts fed by
the Mullaperiyar dam for their irrigation needs.

MK Stalin, senior party leader and son of DMK patriarch
M Karunanidhi, led the protest in Theni accusing politicians
of Kerala of raking up the issue with an eye on an assembly
byelection in that state which could impact stability of the
Congress-led UDF government.

After being rocked by protests, Theni district remained
incident-free today with collector KC Palanisamy describing
the situation as "almost normal".

Police and revenue officials were closely monitoring the
situation, he told agency.

The border areas in the district such as Cumbum, Gudalur
and Lower Camp were gripped by tension in the past few days
after the villagers, protesting Kerala`s stand on the dam
issue, attempted to march towards the state. But, they were
stopped by police, who made baton charge to disperse them.

With Supreme Court yesterday rejecting Kerala`s plea for
lowering the water level in the dam to 120 feet, tension
started easing in the border areas since last evening itself.
Officials said buses operated to all the border towns
including Cumbum, Gudalur, Cumbum Mettu, Kumily Mettu and Bodi
Mettu in the district by evening.

The return of normalcy came a day after the Supreme Court
rapped both Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments for "adding fuel
to the fire" by their statements and not "dousing" it.

"We opened our shop as soon as the news about the Supreme
Court order was seen on TV yesterday. We hope normalcy will be
restored completely by tonight," K Venkatesan, a shop owner
in Gudalur, said.

Amid the friction between the two states, former
President APJ Abdul Kalam said the country cannot afford a
civil war on water and suggested deployment of armed forces to
maintain rivers and dams.

"Water cannot be a (source of) conflict in India. India
cannot afford a civil war on water... Indian rivers and dams
have to be operated and maintained by army, navy or other
armed forces for equitable distribution," he said in Chennai.

Kalam said chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala
should work for an amicable solution to the issue.

Actor-turned politician Vijaykant led a demonstration by
his party DMDK here and asked Tamil Nadu MPs to resign
protesting against Kerala`s stand on the issue.

Kerala has mounted pressure on the Centre for a new dam
citing safety concerns while Tamil Nadu has strongly opposed
it saying the existing structure was safe.