Sunday, January 8, 2012

Is it a Game of Scare mongering: (Kerala ‘Vs’ Tamilnadu: Mullaperiyar Vs MullaiPeriyar

This issue has opened a Pandora of discussion between Malayalis, Tamils and Non-Malayali/Tamils. The issue erupted once again about the ‘safety’ of the dam after the movie Dam 999 . During the controversy one fine late night I received a message from my so-called ‘dalit’ friend(happened to be a Malayali), the message says “Save Kerala” and support the Kerala government to construct a new Dam. It just surprised me because where was this person when tribals were ruthlessly attacked in Chengara. Or when violence involving Chithralekha, a Dalit woman auto driver, on January 20, 2010. I also want to say that it is these friends who always stood with me, in my difficult times. I do have my sincere support to them. Since I am from Tamil Nadu, I do not know that whether I am having a biased feeling over his message. Therefore I need to explore in this writing about my present stand on the issue. Though I had so many discussion between him, but still both of us could not understand each other. I think I was correct, and he justifies he is correct. And also there are so many writings circulating in Print / visual media on the same issue. The press in Tamil Nadu says the Dam is safe, and also it is as new as it is built. (Even if they think it is safe but it is not right to say that it is as new as it is built, seems over exaggeration). Majority of the discussion has been on safety of the Dam. The Kerala government suddenly comes out and says that safety of the Malayalis and others living in that region. It is the same government which ruthlessly attacks Dalits and Triblas. The Tamil Nadu government behaves as a state behaves towards their citizens, which is to say no state is concerned of the rights of their citizens rather busy in building their own clout and economy.
The Malayalis made a documentary on the issue check the link
The 21.27 minutes documentary in English speaks more about the history of Dam, its disaster if it breaks, and also analysis the safety of the MullaPeriyar. For just a few seconds the documentary touches about the Dam agreement.
Tamilians made a documentary on the same issue : This documentary speaks only about the MullaiPeriyar dam, it concentrates and puts the argument of Kerala government and answers one by one. In large this documentary it also pays some attention about the dam agreement 999, and also exposes how much Tamil Nadu is benefiting with this water.
Firstly if we have to look the two documentaries the names are different, in Kerala they call it as Mullaperiyar, in Tamil Nadu it is Mullaiperiyar. Also the issues addressed are different, one speaks about the history of dam disastrous in cotext to Periyar dam. The other documentary did not ever address the issue of dam disastrous, but it was saying the dam is safe, and more importantly spoke about the dam agreement in detail.
It is the same with political parties from both a side: check the link of a video discussion in CNNIBN, CNN IBN,
The so-called neutral people wrote in Hindu, EPW : However there are very few sensible article written on the issue, which addresses the reality, , well written article.
Kerala's Advocate-General had gone on record before the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court that in case of any eventuality, the Idukki reservoir and the Kulamavu and Cheruthoni dams would receive the waters from the Mullaperiyar dam, Abbas pointed out.

In a recent issue of the Economic and Political Weekly, Experts For Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India [1] have made some important suggestions/recommendations to resolve the deadlock that include:
• Reconfirming Kerala’s commitment to provide the present amount of water to Tamil Nadu
• Redefinition of the role of the Mullaperiyar dam as a diversion dam rather than a storage dam and creation of necessary the storage capacity needed for Tamil Nadu inside the state with adequate assistance from the centre
• Undertaking studies on:
o The storage capacity needed for Tamil Nadu
o Redesigning of the diversion and conveyance system and minimising storage in the dam as close as possible to the minimum regulatory storage required on the basis of this redesign
o Measures to strengthen the dam at the new level
o Undertake hydrological studies on flow at the dam site and a schedule for the regulatory storage
o To work out arrangements in the transition phase
• Establish a tripartite board consisting of representatives of the Government of Kerala, Government of Tamil Nadu and the Union government to oversees the preparation of a reservoir operation plan and monitor and modify it throughout the year [1].

1. Amita Baviskar, Bharat Patankar, Biksham Gujja, Chandan Mahanta, Dulal Chandra Goswami, Eklavya Prasad, Jayanta Bandopadhyaya, K J Joy, Medha Patkar, Partha Das, Philippe Cullet, Pranab Choudhury, M K Prasad, Rohini Nilekani, Shripad Dharmadhikary, Shruti Vispute, Sunita Nadhamuni, Vinod Gaud, Y K Alagh, A Vaidyanathan and B N Yugandhar (2011) Letters: A Plan for Resolving Mullaperiyar Conflict, The Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XLVI (51)

Hence, there are few sensible people on both the sides to look into the issue however as usual they do not get public attention. The Centre Water commission recently said the dam is safe. The report was submitted to the EC's head, the former Chief Justice of India, A.S. Anand. The other members on the Committee are retired Supreme Court Judges K.T. Thomas (representing Kerala) and A.R. Lakshmanan (representing Tamil Nadu).
Save Kerala water to Tamil Nadu:
I find this the only way the state government of Kerala can convince the masses. The reason, if they talk about the safety of Kerala then the highest priority is the safety of Kerala, but they speak about the agreement more ( in most discussion you can find that even so called Malayalis may not agree with the agreement, they too will address this issue), and it this agreement they are interested than the safety of Kerala people. (However, this so-called Malayalis are my good friends in Campus, that also four friends of mine)Or let them say save Kerala and change the agreement to the new dam if it is constructed. That would seem more fair if the Kerala government and my friends say the same. Also if they say that they will give water to Tamil Nadu, then what interest they have to built a new dam at the cost of their money. Why cant the Kerala government ask the Tamil Nadu government to built a new dam and have the same rights. Are they ready to do that, I suspect whether they would agree. Why cannot the Kerala government and those who support the state government’s argument talk about this. Basically, they wanted to remove the agreement. If a new dam is built then the Mullaiperiyar Dam agreement of 999 will not apply to the new dam, because it would be under the control of Kerala government. In the Documentary done by malayalis, one of the living person in Idukki, who is a tamilian says. "let them take water and built a new dam", Which i think the only concern of the person was safety.

It can also be told that the present dam is only partially controlled by the Tamil Nadu Government. If we say the dam is under the control of Tamil Nadu, then Tamil Nadu could have increased the level of water in the Dam, after the supreme Court judgement in 1990's. There was a protest in Kerala as a result the Tamil Nadu government did not increase.
It is the same government in 1990’s opposed supreme court judgment and passed an assembly resolution saying no one can interfere with the issue on Dams which are in Kerala. Therefore how do we believe that Kerala will stand on its word. Why cant in some years later an assembly passes another resolution that the water is for Kerala.
Tamil Nadu: Dam is Safe
The Tamil Nadu government and the people on media say the dam is safe. I do agree that the dam is safe. But no one has the rights to force someone to believe what others should believe. Therefore if the Kerala government says the dam is unsafe, even it is false, but people are subjected to a threat, which the news media especially Manorama and Asianet advocates and succeeds. It may be true or false, but it is a belief, which no one can predict, and since the people who are going to be affected are in Kerala, it is the responsibility of the Tamil Nadu government to create an opinion of strengthening the Dam. Even it is as strong as it is but the Tamil Nadu state has to responsible to address the issue till the last man in that area is satisfied.
Tamil Nadu government should say that the state will build the new dam and have the same legal agreement as it was for the Mullaiperiyar dam. Building a new dam has so much repercussion to the nature, forest etc in that area. However, one of the suggestion given by some authors seems good enough: I quote
Reconfirming Kerala’s commitment to provide the present amount of water to Tamil Nadu
• Redefinition of the role of the Mullaperiyar dam as a diversion dam rather than a storage dam and creation of necessary the storage capacity needed for Tamil Nadu inside the state with adequate assistance from the centre

(This article entirely focused on the argument of Kerala government that water for Tamil Nadu safety for Kerala) With this argument they are convincing the masses. In this they never address the Dam agreement.I just explored that it is a fake by the Kerala government to convince the masses, that they are geniune. Also the Kerala Government refers that IIT report on the Dam. Actually, that is a private report from few people done a study, and it is not the official report of the IIT.
What is my stake on the agreement of the 999 years of lease of Mullaiperiyar Dam to Tamil Nadu? I leave it to the Supreme Court.

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