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: http://pareltank.blogspot.com/2006/12/politicising-mullaperiyar.html