Dam-ned?

Mullaperiyar, or Mullaiperiyar Dam depending upon your loyalties, is a catastrophe in waiting. The adjoining info-graphic traces the history of the issue and lists the arguments given by the two conflicting states. Click on it to enlarge.


Being dependent upon water bodies flowing in through neighbouring states, Tamil Nadu has always been on logger heads with them. Its concerns are genuine as these rivers are mainstay for its economy, providing irrigation facilities for agriculture and power generation for the industries. However, Mullaperiyar is a case of much more grave concern for the state of Kerala.

Kerala government has been defending its case for a new dam on the basis of the ‘Precautionary Principle’ laid down in the famous Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992), of which India is a signatory.

Its Principle 15 states, “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

In the given case, the danger is not mere environmental degradation but major loss of human life and biodiversity.

In this scenario, the adamance being shown by the Tamil Nadu government is uncalled for. Not only is it denying Kerala’s demand for a new dam but is also not cooperating with the Center on this issue. Recently Jayalalithaa Government decided not to participate in the “informal discussion” on the dam dispute in New Delhi.

Moreover, Tamil Nadu moved the Supreme Court to restrain the Kerala Government from making any remark on de-commissioning of the dam or construction of a new one as it was allegedly creating a fear psychosis among the people.

At this juncture, it is important for Jayalalithaa Government to allay such fears if any by going an extra mile rather than rubbishing them altogether.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court, while asking both the states not to politicize the issue, has decided against Kerala's demand for reduction in water level from 136 ft. to 120 ft. Tamil Nadu Government must not regard this as a victory but help in restoring peace and normalcy in the region.

If steps are not taken to redress this issue at the earliest, any untoward incidence will be a blot on India’s federal polity.

Image Courtesy:
Self-designed

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