Tamil Diplomat

Political parties damn the dam, to launch agitations on Sept 3

CHENNAI/ERODE/COIMBATORE:With the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests granting nod for the standard terms of reference for the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the proposed gravity dam across the Siruvani at Attappadi in Kerala, Opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu is all set to launch an agitation on September 3 in protest. The party wants to prevail upon the Centre and the State to take steps to stop Kerala from going ahead with the plan.

DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Sunday announced that his party would hold an agitation near the Chidambaram Park in Coimbatore. “The stir will be held in Coimbatore on September 3. DMK treasurer M K Stalin will preside,” he said in a statement, adding that partymen from Coimbatore, Erode and Tirupur districts would participate in large numbers.

Raising concern over the move to build the dam, he noted that all these three districts would be rendered dry in the event of a dam coming up across the Siruvani, depriving TN of water. The Puthiya Tamilagam (PT) also announced a similar stir on the same day in Coimbatore to press for steps to stop construction across the Siruvani, a sub-tributary of the Cauvery. “We will hold a demonstration in Coimbatore on September 3, demanding effective steps to stop the dam project,” PT leader Dr K Krishnasamy told reporters in Chennai on Sunday.

He recalled that the Kerala government had given up the move to construct the dam across the Siruvani a few years ago, after the political parties, including the PT, resorted to protests. The EAC move has generated much heat in Tamil Nadu with Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and political parties registering strong objection. The Chief Minister on Saturday sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention to withdraw the nod given for EIA study and stop any projects in the Cauvery and its sub-basin.

In Erode, the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) urged Modi to convene a meeting of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers to sort out the present river water sharing issues. Terming Tamil Nadu the worst sufferer in river water issue, TMC state general secretary and former MLA Vidiyal Sekar said the State would suffer in a big way if the plans of the three neighbouring states to construct dams across the Siruvani, Cauvery and Palar materialised.

Hence, the Union Environment Ministry should not give permission for such dams at any cost. He said the TMC cadre in Erode, Tirupur and Coimbatore would soon stage a massive stir on the border with Kerala. Terming disputes over river water sharing as an emerging issue across the country, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) State president and CPM central committee member A Soundararajan said in Coimbatore that mutual agreement between the States  was the only way forward.

“Earlier, it was Mullaiperiyar, then Cauvery and Palar. Now it is the construction of a check dam across the Siruvani. The Centre should take steps to reach a mutual agreement between the states on water sharing, and the states have to abide by that agreement. The proposed gravity dam across the Siruvani, if constructed, will affect the people in Tamil Nadu. We will make our concerns known to both the state governments, and then we will also stage a protest to stop its construction, if need be,” Soundararajan said.

In Erode, 38 cadre of the Tamizh Puligal Katchi, representing dalits, were arrested on Sunday when they tried to stage a rail blockade at the railway station against Kerala’s move to construct the gravity dam. Heading the stir, party secretary Sindhanai Selvan said even though some farmers in Kerala claimed that the proposed dam would store just 4 tmc of water, the dam construction would hit the entire Kongu region badly.(BBC,2016)