New Delhi: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Thursday, ordered a ban on the screening of the controversial film titled ‘Dam 999’ in the state. A work of fiction, the film shows the massive loss of lives and destruction of property that occurs due to the sudden collapse of a dam.
The state government and many other Tamil parties allege that the movie has been made to create panic among the people of Kerala in view of the fears being raised in that state over the strength of the Mullaperiyar dam.
The two states have been fighting over the dam for long – the dam is in Iddukki district of Kerala but is operated by the Tamil Nadu government by way of a lease agreement. While the government of Tamil Nadu wants to increase the storage level of the dam, the Kerala government opposes it citing safety concern - a breach could put lives of lakhs of people living downstream in peril.
Kerala wants a new dam built to replace the 116-year old dam but Tamil Nadu is not open to the idea and terms concerns about the safety of the dam as unfounded. The Mullaperiyar dam is important for Tamil Nadu as it meets the irrigation needs of farmers in southern districts.
Citing that the film’s release may cause law and order problems and because it is against the interests of the state, the TN government asked theatre owners not to release the movie.
Apart from the ruling AIADMK, leaders of prominent Tamil political parties including DMK, MDMK and PMK have raised the pitch against its release, expressing fears that its release would disrupt the peaceful co-existence of Tamils and Malayalees in both states.
In a statement issued by DMK, party chief M Karunanidhi said, “At a time when the case on the Mullaperiyar dam was pending in the Supreme Court, some people had produced a film on the likely outcome of the breach of the dam. The title of the film had been selected with ulterior motives.”
The DMK chief also sought to know why the Jayalalithaa government failed to express objections to the film when the controversy had come up for discussion in Parliament.
MDMK chief Vaiko has said the film, financed by Keralites, starring Indian and Hollywood actors and directed by Sohan Roy has been named `Dam 999`, referring to the legal rights held by Tamil Nadu over the dam for 999 years.
On the other hand, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said a new dam has to be built - pointing to cracks in the structure after nearly 22 minor tremors. Chandy made another demand later - that the water level in the dam be reduced 120 feet, as a temporary solution.
"We are asking the Central government to intervene and tell the Tamil Nadu government to do it. We also request the SC empowered committee to look into it. In context of the frequent tremors it is an immediate necessity," Kerala Water Resources Minister PJ Joseph said.
Meanwhile, Congress’ Lok Sabha MP from Trivendrum Shashi Tharoor has jumped in support of the movie saying, “There is no logic in blocking the release of the movie.”