Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s claim of Mullaperiyar dam currently not being in danger has come under heavy criticism with social media flooded with a 2011 video of him demanding replacement of the 116-year old dam.
Recently in the state Assembly, Vijayan had claimed that there is no immediate threat to the dam as being “portrayed by a section of people”, and warned of strict legal action against the guilty.
He was responding to a question of his party colleague and former State Minister for Electricity M.M. Mani, who is a legislator from the Idukki district where the dam is located.
Soon after his statement, social media came alive and it revisited an event in which Vijayan, the then CPI-M state secretary took part on December 8, 2011.
It was a human chain of lakhs of people in the 208 km stretch from near Muallaperiyar dam site to the Arabian sea at Kochi demanding a new dam as the old one was “leaking”.
Even though the call for human chain was given by the CPI-M led Left Democratic Front, people from all sections of Idukki and Ernakulam districts had participated in it.
On that day, exactly at 4 a.m., they had taken a pledge that “Kerala’s four million people’s life is in danger
as of the present 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is shaky after 28 tremors hit the area in and around the dam site in the past nine months”.
Vijayan could be standing near a shamiana where a fast was being undertaken by the then local CPI M legislator S.Rajendran in Vandiperiyar in Idukki.
“Experts have pointed out that if an earthquake measuring six on the Richter scale takes place, then the dam will be washed away leading to an irreparable loss and hence, we demand that it be replaced with a new dam,” he had said.
The social media trolls are now asking what has changed to the Mullaperiyar dam from 2011 to 2021.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. While it is located in Kerala, its waters serve Tamil Nadu.
Kerala is worried that a strong earthquake might damage the dam and cause widespread destruction. It is seeking a new dam and has offered to fund and build it, but Tamil Nadu is not agreeing.
According to experts, a quake in the area can lead to washing away of Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and parts of Thrissur.
Incidentally, the other day Vijayan wrote to his Tamil Nadu counterpart M.K. Stalin, urging his government to draw maximum quantities of water from the Mullaperiyar dam as the reservoir levels inched closer to the 142-foot mark, following heavy rains at the area.
Vijayan made the appeal as water levels in the dam crossed 137.05 feet on Sunday night.
On Tuesday, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan too wrote to Stalin seeking his support for the construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar.