What started as a ban on the movie - Dam 999 moved to a more condemnable act - an attack on pilgrims from Tamil Nadu at Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. The insanity rages on with attacks on shops owned by Keralites in Salem, Erode, Coimbatore and Chennai. The movie directed by Sohan Roy met the ban because it purportedly depicts the collapse of Mullaiperiyar dam from which sprouts the currently raging controversy between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
While the former state wants to raise water level in the dam from 136 to 142 feet as per a verdict issued by Supreme Court, it is also working in every direction to allay fear psychosis of its neighbors claiming it has done everything timely to strengthen the masonry gravity dam originally built in 1887. The latter - state of Kerala is afraid if the seismically active zone of Idukki might see the dam crumbling soon with the slightest tremor, the breach in the dam observed by an experts committee presents a grim condition, foretelling a disaster of unfathomable proportions on environment, downstream dams - Idukki, Cheruthoni and Kulamavu and life. Kerala wants a new dam in place of the current Mullaiperiyar dam and definitely does not want the water level to be raised. The wants of the neighbors are in stark contrast when juxtaposed. While Tamil Nadu has been focusing on how the Supreme Court verdict passed a little back must be heeded to, Kerala is placing the magnifying glass on the damage in the masonry dam in upstream portions - 95 to 106 feet from the base of the dam.
Insanity due to fear psychosis and intolerance has already risen over the last few days and there is widespread unrest in bordering areas and blockade of highway traffic. The Union Government sits at Delhi with its back turned to the South, not enough clamor until now in these two states to garner their attention or turn their heads.
The Centre is busy rolling back decisions announced by it last week and fighting out the warrior in Anna Hazare. It is the Supreme Court of India that looks into all issues of national and state level importance. It has set up an experts committee to study the extent of damage in Mullaiperiyar dam and effectiveness of its earlier announced verdict. Top TV news channels do not consider this issue important enough to cover it for even a span of 5 minutes. Anything related to Kudankulam nuclear power plant or Mullaiperiyar dam appears as trailing meta data displayed at the lowermost portion of our TV screen.
The nature and magnitude of damage as predicted by M. Sasidharan, a member of the Inter State Water Advisory Committee, in event of collapse of the dam can be read from the link below -
This quite probable event of collapse is completely overlooked by Tamil Nadu state. The states are behaving like two sides of a coin.
Human chains are formed and processions underway in Madurai, Theni and Ramanathapuram districts that benefit from water of Periyar river demanding the execution of Supreme Court order at the earliest possible. There was a one page appeal by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in Times of India newspaper, Bangalore edition on Saturday - Dec 10, 2011 stating the history of the dam, repair works undertaken by the state and remarking fears and worries as a complete and needless misplacement.
Water sharing and dam disputes are not new in the Southern states, that man made structures erected have a lifetime and are not free from error and prone to destruction by natural, calamitous forces is also a well established fact with various instances from different parts of the world, including the far more developed West.
What is incomprehensible is the way in which these two states are not being brought to the discussion table by a supposedly bigger and more respectable force - the Centre, be made to talk out all aspects of the problem and arrive at a plausible solution after scanning reports by fair and well informed committees. Looks like that honorable stature goes only to the Supreme Court in our country and not the Legislature we people elected. Irrespective of who comes to table a solution, the sooner the better it will be, before peace and amity wanes between the neighbors who have already begun to unscrupulously mix business, religion and spirituality, entertainment with this damned DAM issue.