Chennai: AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam upped his ante on the ongoing slanging match between him and the State Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan on the release of water from the Mullaiperiyar dam before the storage level touched 142 feet, demanding answers to his questions and warning the DMK government of dire consequences if they remained silent on it.
Denying the charge of Duraimurugan that the PWD Minister in the previous AIADMK government never visited the Mullaiperiyar dam, located in Idukki district of Kerala, Panneerselvam said that he been to the dam site at least 14 times when he held the PWD portfolio between 2002 and 2006 and from 2011 to 21 and in other times too as a Minister from the district.
Slamming Duraimurugan for giving out false statements, Pannerselvam said his life was intertwined with the Mullaiperiyar dam and that the AIADMK had the moral authority to talk about any issue relating to the State, not just the dam issue.
He said the AIADMK was organizing a massive protest in the headquarters of all the five districts that were fed by the water from Mullaiperiyar - Theni, Madurai, Dindigul, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram – on November 9 since the DMK government had reneged on the State’s rights.
Raising the question as to why the water from the dam was release when the storage had not touched 142 feet and when the districts of Sivagnaga and Ramanathapuram had not received their share of water, the AIADMK leader recalled the various efforts made by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in restoring the State’s river water rights.
It was not only in the seeking the raising of water level to 142 feet from 136 feet in the Mullaiperiyar dam through a legal fight but also in getting the State’s share of Cauvery water, Jayalalithaa had consistently waged a war with the neighbouring States.
Though the DMK had once claimed that if it came to power it would solve all the river water disputes with neighbouring States through talks, it had not done anything on that, Panneerselvam alleged and wanted to know if the latest water release was done unilaterally by the Kerala government on with the consent of Tamil Nadu.
If it was done by Kerala on its own, why were officials from Tamil Nadu present at the site on the occasion and if it was after getting Tamil Nadu’s consent, were the farmers in the region taken into account, the AIADMK leader asked.
Camping in his hometown, Pannerselvam is said to have held a meeting with office-bearers of the five districts where the protest has been called. He is said to have told the functionaries to ensure that the agitation had a huge turnout of party supporters and that it was a grand success.
He had taken up the fight with the DMK government over the Mullaiperiyar issue personally not just because he had been the PWD Minister and also hails from Theni district, which is one of the first districts that get water from the dam, but also because he has to prove himself in the party.
Since the Leader of the Opposition the Assembly Edappadi K Palaniswami is seemingly overtaking him in the popularity sweepstakes within the party, Panneerselvam has to find a niche for himself in the AIADMK, in which technically he is the head honcho. So he found in the Mullaiperiyar issue a stick to beat the DMK government also to rally cadre around him.
Meanwhile, the BJP had also announced an agitation to lay a siege at the Theni district collector’s office on November 9 to protest the alleged giving up of the State’s river water rights by the DMK government.