Mullaperiyar Dam Issue has Turned Violent and Emotional
Mullaperiyar Dam Issue
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Mullaperiyar Dam Issue
Mullaperiyar Dam Issue
Intransigent attitude by both State Governments
The Mullaperiyar dam issue is threatening to erupt violently, disrupting peaceful and cordial relations between the Malayalees and the Tamils. Already violence has erupted in various parts of the two States. Devotees from Tamil Nadu visiting Sabarimala in Kerala have been attacked. Shops run by Malayalees have been ransacked in Tamil Nadu. The two State governments are intransigent. This kind of inflexible, stubborn, obdurate, obstinate, narrow-minded, uncompromising, intractable, unyielding and unbending attitude displayed by both the State governments will only drive the people of the two States towards violence.
Demand for new dam
Mullaperiyar dam was built 130 years back during the British rule. According to an agreement entered between the Maharaja of Travancore and head of Madras Presidency, the Mullaperiyar dam water will be supplied to five districts in the Southern Tamil Nadu at a nominal cost. The agreement was renewed in 1977. The original agreement was valid for 999 years. Everything went on normally for the last 130 years. But now suddenly Kerala is demanding that the old dam should be demolished and a new dam should be built in its place for safety reasons. Tamil Nadu government is opposing this move because it suspects that with the demolition of the old dam, the old agreement also will be demolished and Kerala may refuse to supply water to Tamil Nadu from the new dam. But Kerala denies that is has no such ulterior motives and that its demand for a new dam is only to ensure safety purpose.
Babri Masjid issue took more than fifty years for a judgement
The matter has been posted to the Supreme Court of India. But Supreme Court is not known to take bold decisions if the matter involved is an emotional issue involving two States or two communities. It took more than fifty years to get a judgement on the status of the demolished Babri Masjid from the Allahabad High Court. Even this verdict is not a satisfying one for any community. The judgement says that the land around Ram Temple should be divided and the divided portion should be handed over to the Muslims and Hindus. For this why has the court taken more than fifty years? Even this judgement is under appeal. The Supreme Court may take many more years to pronounce its verdict.
Supreme Court avoided a judgement in the 69% reservation case
The Supreme Court avoided giving a clear cut judgement on the sensitive issue of 69% reservation followed by the Tamil Nadu State government. According to Supreme Court guidelines, reservation above 50% is not allowed. Therefore the Supreme Court could have ruled boldly against the 69% reservation being followed by Tamil Nadu. But it refused to do so and has simply referred the issue to the Backward Classes Commission. If the Supreme Court cannot give a verdict on a sensitive issue, then what for it is functioning and the judges are paid salary?
Supreme Court may ask the two States to share water through negotiations
The Supreme Court may take many years to pronounce its judgement on the Mullaperiyar dam issue also. Ultimately it may refer the issue to the Water Resources department or some tribunal for reconciliation between the two States. The Supreme Court will cite the precedence of referring the reservation issue to the Backward Classes Commission. Therefore the two States cannot expect any benefit from the Supreme Court. The case will hang on for a long time. By the time the issue itself may die. Or the Supreme Court may ask to divide the water between them through negotiations.
Kerala can agree for continued share of water
What then is the way out to resolve this tricky problem? If Kerala is really not intending to cheat, it can agree to conclude a new agreement with Tamil Nadu to give the water to the five districts even after the new dam is constructed. If Kerala signs this agreement, then Tamil Nadu will not have any objection to demolition of the old dam and construction of a new dam. In other words, old dam or new dam is not the main issue here. Water is the main issue. If Kerala can assure this, then the matter will be quickly resolved.
Tamil Nadu can also come down
Tamil Nadu can also agree to receive 75% of the water and grant the remaining 25% to Kerala for irrigation purposes. In the past, Kerala had been a water surplus State. But of late, it is turning into water-deficient State. Therefore it makes sense to take Kerala also into confidence and conclude a new agreement. Tamil Nadu government should realise one truth. The old agreement concluded during the British rule may not be enforceable in a court of law. This is because the British have left India, Travancore State no longer exists and the Madras Presidency also no longer exists. Indian States have been reconstituted and the topography has completely changed. Under the circumstances, if Tamil Nadu insists on an old agreement whose signatories no longer exist, how valid it will be before the eyes of the law? Tamil Nadu cannot claim that it is the heir to the erstwhile Madras State. The erstwhile Madras State extended to almost all parts of the present South India. It is in Tamil Nadu’s interest to conclude a new agreement through negotiations, taking the people of Kerala into confidence. The agreement renewed in 1977 may not come to the rescue of Tamil Nadu as it was also based on the old agreement.
Any violence will affect Malayalees more than Tamils
Kerala should realise that it also has much to lose if it is obdurate. If violence erupts and peace is disrupted between the two States, who stands to lose more? Very few Tamil people are settled in Kerala and doing business there for their livelihood. But very large number of Malayalees are settled and doing business profitably in Tamil Nadu. In every street if there are ten shops, three or four belong to the Malayalees. Besides shops, many Malayalees are permanently settled down in big cities in Tamil Nadu like Chennai, Coimbatore etc. They have purchased properties and many of them are working in companies and offices located in Tamil Nadu. Many dealers and commission agents are Malayalees. If violence erupts and peace is erupted, all these people may have to pack up and scurry to Kerala for saving their lives. It will be a hard life for them in Kerala as the State is not as vibrant as Tamil Nadu in industry and business.
Devotees may stop visiting Kerala shrines
Many goods also move to Kerala from Tamil Nadu. The movement of these goods will be affected, causing hardship to the people of Kerala. Prices will soar in Kerala for all essential commodities. The stoppage of pilgrims’ visit to Sabarimala will deprive Kerala State huge money as a majority of the people visiting Sabarimala are Tamils. Besides Sabarimala, there are large number of pilgrims from Tamil Nadu to other holy shrines located in Kerala like Lord Krishna Temple Guruvayur, Padmanabasamy Temple Thiruvananthapuram and Madapallikavu Temple Palakkad among others. Even Christians from Tamil Nadu visit Chalakkudi for a festival.
Governments should show maturity
There are relatives of Malayalees in Tamil Nadu and relatives of Tamils in Kerala. The relationship between the two States is age old. In fact Malayalam language itself originated from Tamil. Tourists from each State visit the tourist spots in the other State and enjoy. Mullaperiyar dam issue has not affected the cordiality of the relations between the two States in the past. It should not affect the relations in future also. There are petty minded politicians and trouble makers in both States looking for an opportunity to blow up the issue into a big one to score political advantages. But the two State Governments should show maturity and settle the issue quickly without giving any room for dissatisfaction on either side.
Mullaperiyar dam issue
Mullaperiyar dam, the source of contention, is here
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