Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Should we solve Mullaperiyar disputes through fist-fights and street violence?

Should Tamils and Keralites resort to fist-fights and violence to solve the 30 year old or probably 116 year old dispute over Mullaperiyar, as in medieval times?

Or should they as civilized persons, and as bretheren sharing a common culture and legacy,  try to identify the various legal, technical and political issues in this dispute and try to explore options to resolve them, to the mutual satisfaction of the people on the west and east of the Western Ghats?

  • There are various legal issues pending resolution before the Supreme Court and before the High Court of Kerala.  The law must take its course but legal decisions must be expedited, because disasters do not wait for anyone.
  • Safety issues have been raised by Kerala with the Kerala Government demanding construction of a new dam to resolve safety issues.  Technically competent persons must identify the risks and come forward with various options to mitigate the safety concerns. Independent or mutually agreeable risk assessment, risk management options and disaster impact analysis and risk/disaster management plans, are all required in this scenario to determine whether decommissioning the existing dam and building a new dam would be the only option. Tamilnadu engineers must provide data to satisfy Kerala engineers that the dam's safety measures are in place to avert a disaster.
  • All poltical protests and violence must stop.  Tamils need the Malayali shops, businessmen, cine stars and employees in Chennai and elsewhere. Malayalees need Tamilian businessmen and industrialists, Tamil cinemas and Tamil stars  and Tamil labor in Kerala. 
  • There must be assurance that Tamilnadu will get water for irrigation, drinking and for power as it is getting now and there must be assurance for the people of Kerala that the aging dam is not a safety hazard for Kerala. If necessary a new agreement must be entered into scrapping the agreements in dispute.
  • All right-thinking persons in both States and across India (because this is a national problem too) to come forward with suggestions to resolve this dispute amicably and in a manner that benefits everyone.
Joseph Ponnoly

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