Thiruvananthapuram | The Kerala Government today made it clear that it would go ahead with the state’s proposed dam project across Siruvani river after arriving at a consensus with neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan made the remarks in the Assembly in the wake of the Centre withholding permission given to Kerala to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the project on the request of Tamil Nadu.
Vijayan, while replying to a submission on the issue in the Assembly, said the project was significant for Kerala as it was envisaging finding a solution for the acute drinking water scarcity in Attappady region.
He also confirmed that the state had received a letter from the Centre, with its decision to keep in abeyance the recommendations of an expert committee of Environment Ministry allowing Kerala to conduct EIA study for the dam.
The Centre took the decision after the Tamil Nadu government had sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi objecting the project, he added.
“The government’s plan is to go ahead with the dam project. For this, we will try to arrive at a consensus with Tamil Nadu and the Centre,” the chief minister said while replying to a submission raised by Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
“The Attappady Irrigation project (as part of which the dam is proposed to be constructed), is envisaged for the irrigation in 4,900 hectares of agricultural land in Agali, Sholayur and Kottathara areas,” Vijayan said.
As Siruvani is a tributary of the Bhavanipuzha, which is a branch of Cauvery river, a consensus with neighbouring states was necessary for Kerala to implement the project, he said.
Raising the submission on the issue, Chennithala said the Centre’s decision to freeze permission for EIA study was an ‘infringement’ into the state’s rights, which would destroy the federal system in the country.
He maintained that the “proposed dam is within the boundary of of the state, which is also across a state river”.
About the apprehension of Tamil Nadu that the dam would cause water scarcity in its areas like Coimbatore and Tirupur, Chennithala said it would cause no harm to the neighbouring state.
According to the Cauvery Tribunal verdict, Kerala has to receive over four TMC water, he said adding the state government should approach the Supreme Court to protect its interest, if necessary.
Chennithala also alleged that the Centre had withheld permission for EIA study under pressure from Tamil Nadu, which was a clear neglect towards Kerala.