Minister slams Jaya appeal on Mullaperiyar

Thiruvananthapuram: P.J. Joseph, Kerala water resources minister and crusader for a new dam at Mullaperiyar, Saturday termed as a distortion of facts Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa’s full-page advertisement in newspapers here claiming that the land mafia was behind the move to reduce water level in the dam.In the “appeal”, the chief minister has said that the “water spread” area around the 116-year-old dam has been encroached upon by land mafia, who were opposing the move to raise the water level.

“The water spread area has been encroached upon by land grabbers in Kerala who have built resorts and other buildings on the lands leased to Tamil Nadu. If the water level is increased from 136 feet, these resorts will get submerged and this is also cited by some as the possible reason for the plea to decommission the Mullaperiyar dam,” reads her statement.Addressing reporters, Joseph said her ‘appeal’ is not true.

“Her statement that the demand to reduce the water level is to save the land mafia is totally wrong. It is unfortunate that she has questioned the real intention of the people in Kerala because all are aware of the dangers that the present dam poses to them. We are confident that the apex court will allow us to reduce the water level from the present 136 feet to 120 feet,” said Joseph.

Jayalalithaa’s appeal comes a day after the Kerala assembly unanimously passed a resolution that the central government should sanction a new dam to replace the leaking Mullaperiyar in Idukki district.This is the third unanimous resolution passed by the Kerala assembly demanding a new dam. The first was passed in 1993 when K. Karunakaran of the Congress was chief minister and the next one in 2009 when V.S. Achuthanandan of the CPI-M was heading the government.

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