Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's the Truth about Mullaperiyar, please?

Guess all human beings are parochial but it is perplexing how parochialism can so totally cloud judgment as it does in the case of the Mullaperiyar Dam dispute between Tamilnadu & Kerala.

The dam has a long history, going back to pre Independence days. It has a complex history of litigation and inter state wrangling in the post independence period. Wallowing in the mire of these histories, the most pressing problem is sidelined.

The present crisis between Kerala and Tamilnadu has all the ingredients of a water war. But my concern is with something more than that – something immediately more serious, namely, the humongous nature of the catastrophe if, as Kerala feels, the dam should break.

The projection is that the districts of Idukki, Kottayam and parts of Ernakulam districts will be inundated, leading to unprecedented loss of human lives.

Perhaps it is the height of naivety to ask: Doesn’t this - this feared loss of lives running into lakhs - matter to the leaders of Tamilnadu who have always tried to take political mileage out of the dam issue? The number of farmers affected by maintaining the level of the dam is flaunted to incite – what? Support in the form of violence? A token gesture to Kerala about what will happen if - - ?

Tamilnadul’s attitude seems to be like: We have followed the directives of the Supreme Court and strengthened the dam. Now raise the water level for our farmers. If the dam bursts and lakhs of your people die, well, too bad. Your tough luck! Anyway, cross the bridge when you come to it. Go ask the Supreme Court then.

Can irrigation issue be bracketed with human lives?

Of course, irrigation is important. It’s a matter of livelihood for tens of thousands of farmers. No doubt about that. But surely it is callous to insist on a solution which, experts say, can cause a terrible human catastrophe?

Or is the Kerala govt bluffing? Is Kerala worried about electricity production if the dam is raised? Does Tamilnadu have any proof that Mullaperiyar is just a bogey raised for some reason known only to Kerala?

If Kerala government is not bluffing, can we afford to wait for the Supreme Court ruling to divert a catastrophe?

I’m sure disasters are not going to be restrained or delayed by their respect for the apex court.

Like an ignoramus who hardly understands the nuances of the issue, I ask:

Why is Tamilnadu objecting to underwater mapping of the dam using cameras to ascertain its safety?

Why is Tamilnadu objecting to the construction of a new dam, a solution mooted by Kerala government to protect the thickly populated downstream?

It is so difficult to digest that the politicians of any state can be so impervious to the fact that not thousands but lakhs of lives of Indian citizens might be lost if the dam gives away.

Or is it that they have some knowledge about foul play in the Mullperiyar discourse emanating from Kerala?

What is the central government doing? Why is there no sense of urgency? Does it not know this is an issue that does not provide the luxury of waiting for court verdicts? This wait and watch policy of the Centre and the just- another- litigation attitude of the Supreme Court is most incomprehensible.

Can we not approach a totally neutral expert committee of international repute to assess the condition of the dam?

The helpless readers who are fed constantly by conflicting media reports can only hope and pray that the dam remains intact till the issue is sorted out.

My earlier post on Mullaperiyar:


  1. Hi KPJ:)


    This is a serious issue which involves co-operation between two states. The states will not come to an understanding because they want get a political mileage out of the issue.

    It can only be solved by the Supreme Court or the Central Govt. by taking fast decision.

    I have not beeb paying much attention to this although I have been reading the headlines. From what you have written, I think this is a very serious issue and I hope a solution will be found expeditiously.

    Many thanks for sharing this post.

    Have a lovely day:)

  2. Tamil nadu only concerns about their economy which will be going to affect for a short period. but for keralites its a matter of life. If anythng happen to dam the whole mid part of kerala will be wash out to the sea. This is not a matter of long discussion & study . As per the study it is proved that the life of dam crossed many years from the limit. The decision should be taken so fast otherwise in a day we will lose lakhs of life..

    Jijo Francis

  3. While taking any decision, no part of our country should be adversely affected – whether TN or Kerala. In case the water flow is TN’s issue, the end result of any decision must be such that TN gets whatever water/other resources currently it gets – not even a drop less than what it gets now, while simultaneously protecting the interests of Kerala. We must remember that these states are only part of our great India and not independent states.
    Just for the sake of vote bank and their vested interests, politicians involve in unwarranted public comments on the issue, inciting people and creating hatred amongst the people of India. This is not a welcome move. What I feel is that we must work together to create better living conditions in our country rather than wasting our life and time in destabilizing it.

  4. It is good to remember that we do depend on each other... Natural resources are to be shared... however, safety issues need to be the first priority. What does Kerala gain by draining the whole water to the Arabian sea? But can the state sit idle if its people are in constant threat? I have read a number of arguements in support of TN. All seem to be damn sure about the impeccable state of the dam!!!It is like your neighbour has put a wild and dangerously ferocious tiger in your house where your baby is sleeping peacefully saying it is safe because the tiger has not done anything until now....just watching and waiting what will happen....It is typical in India and particularly in Kerala... watch and wait....there are numerous examples... put yourself in the shoes of the neighbour...!!!! Now about it being a ploy to control the people of TN....It is known the food you grow is not consumed only by you... keralites depend on that....So why can't the govenments sit down and sort it out more sensibly,logically,practically, without ulterior motives but with mutual respect and social responisbility? After all we are all humn bings first, then what we are, Indians, Mllu, Tamilian etc.

  5. I hail from Ernakulam, and studied in Tamilnadu, which means that both states have warm corners in my heart. It is really scary to imagine such a catastrophe falling on your beloveds, and everything/one you call as "own" destroyed in a jiffy. I, and many others, request the leaders of both states to come to a sensible solution without any delay. We do not want to have disasters, whether flood or famine, or interstate wars. Kerala says they will build the dam, with their own funds, and Tamilnadu will still get to use all that water. Then why the fuss, and mis-trust? Why is this relaxed attitude? Would they have kept this quiet if the dam posed threat to their state? In fact, the TN-CM is not even thinking of the people in Theni and nearby districts of TM that are going to face severe drought and famine if, God forbid, the dam finally breaks...
    And is the Kerala government taking adequate measures to face such a disaster? Do the people know what to do, where to go, if they face such a situation?

    I hope no such disasters occur, but since the dam is ages past it's expiry date, I believe any further delay would cause more harm than good.


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