(Published in Millennium Post on 18 June, 2012, retrieved from http://millenniumpost.in/NewsContent.aspx?NID=4180)
The Periyar Dravida Kazhagam (PDK), Paattaali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) have all protested against the Kerala government’s plan to revive a three-decade old dam project. The proposed dam will help irrigate the drought-prone region of Attapady in Palakkad district of Kerala. They have urged the government of Tamil Nadu to take steps to stop the project immediately.
The two states, which are already at loggerheads over the rebuilding of the Mullaiperiyar Dam, could likely be involved in a fresh tussle over sharing of their limited water resources. The proposed dam will be built over an arm of the Siruvani river that flows into the Bhavani river, which supplies water to the city of Coimbatore. The decision was made at a high-level meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday, which was attended by Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy
Media reports have since quoted the irrigation department of Kerala saying the state plans to store about 4 tmc ft (thousand million cubic feet) of water in the dam. Officials from the state claim the new project will not affect the flow into the Siruvani dam, as it will be constructed on a stream that carries spillover water from the dam.
However, residents of Coimbatore are apprehensive about the impact the dam will have on their water supply. Construction of the dam was stopped in the 1980s after opposition from Tamil Nadu. Now, various farmer unions, environmental activists and political parties have come together to protest against the revival of the project.
On Saturday, a press release from the MDMK announced that the party would hold a demonstration at Mettupalayam. Vaiko alleged that the Kerala government has embarked on the project with the aim of obstructing water supply to Coimbatore and Erode districts.
The Periyar Dravida Kazhagam (PDK), which has a strong presence in the region, has also said it would oppose the project. Saying the Bhavani originates in the Nilgiris Hills and re-enters Tamil Nadu after going to Attapady in Kerala, the party said it would engage people’s power to block the project.
The PMK has also sent out a press release, saying it will protest against the dam. A note from its chief, Ramadass, said Coimbatore, a key trading post, is dependent on water from the Siruvani River. He added that Kerala’s move flouts the water-sharing agreement between the two states by infringing on the rights of Tamil Nadu, and has condemned it. He has called upon the Tamil Nadu government to take up the issue with Kerala right away.