Cutting across political affiliations, Kerala on Wednesday expressed shock and disbelief at the Supreme Court’s permission to Tamil Nadu to raise the water level of Mullapperiyar dam.

The Mullapperiyar Action Council, which spearheaded the movement for relocating the dam to a safer place, has called for a State-level hartal on Thursday.

The ruling UDF has called a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Idukki district, home to the dam. The council has long been running an agitation highlighting the threat perception over the dam located at Thekkady on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

The Mullapperiyar dam, built in 1895 across the river Peiryar, and its vast reservoir have been a political and emotional issue in Kerala for several decades.

Since it is an old masonry dam, the threat to the lakhs of people living in the highly populated downstream areas is real. But, at the same time, many Keralites cannot stomach the idea that Tamil Nadu is the sole beneficiary of the dam and reservoir located in Kerala. Tamil Nadu’s right is derived from a 19{+t}{+h} century agreement with the king of Travancore and the then British colonial government of Madras Presidency.

Final blow

The Supreme Court verdict has been interpreted as the last and final blow to Kerala on the Mullapperiyar dam issue and hence the UDF Government, political parties and various NGOs are shocked and bewildered.

However, had the verdict come before the April 10 Lok Sabha election, it would definitely have had a deep impact, especially in the Idukki constituency where the UDF and the LDF had a tight contest.

And, had it come before the April 24 Tamil Nadu elections, it would have been a huge advantage for the ruling AIADMK.

(This article was published on May 7, 2014)
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