Hogenakkal issue: Jaya blasts Karunanidhi
06 April 2008, Sunday: AIADMK SUPREMO and former Tamilnadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who maintained a studied silence when violence erupted on both sides of the Karnataka-Tamilnadu border over the Hogenakkal Integrated Water Supply Scheme, has now deigned to mouth a few words on the issue. She has opposed the Tamilnadu chief minister Karunanidhi’s decision to put the said scheme on hold. Probably she waited for a chink in Karunanidhi’s armour to reveal itself so she could pounce on him and Karunanidhi did not disappoint her either. He obliged her sooner than later by putting the Scheme on hold in deference to the wishes of the ‘Madam from Delhi’, thus playing into the hands of the ‘Madam from Chennai’.
Well, the Chennai Madam, Jayalalitha, charged Karunanidhi with surrendering the rights of Tamils under pressure from the Centre, instead of removing the stumbling blocks. Tamilnadu was under no obligation to seek a clearance from Karnataka for the project since Hogenakkal was part of the state. The scheme envisaged use of Cauvery water that flowed into Tamilnadu. When the Karnataka government was implementing the Bangalore drinking water scheme, why should Tamilnadu be prevented from implementing its own drinking water scheme? The surrender by Karunanidhi was uncalled for since Karnataka had no right to intervene in the project.
She reminded Karunanidhi that the Tamilnadu assembly adopted a resolution in support of the scheme earlier on, only to drop it subsequently. This was against established norms. The house should have been informed of it. The implementation of the project had been influenced by the ensuing assembly elections in Karnataka and that was not acceptable to the people of Tamilnadu. Karunanidhi had betrayed the people of Tamilnadu by linking the issue to the ensuing assembly polls in Karnataka. He had lost the moral right to continue as chief minister of Tamilnadu. Tamilnadu should have a government which was prepared to fight for its rights. The decision on the part of Karunanidhi amounted to a tacit admission on the part of the government of Tamilnadu that Karnataka had the right to decide on the fate of the project. Karunanidhi had granted a ‘non-existent’ right to Karnataka. She wondered whether Tamilnadu deserved such a chief minister. She wound up by saying that whether it was the dispute over the Cauvery waters or Mullaperiyar dam or the Palar row, the discussions held by the DMK government with the states concerned proved to be nothing but “empty talks.
There is some truth in what the Jayalalitha says. But she has left unsaid another distinct possibility if recent experience in Karnataka is anything to go by. What if the assembly elections in Karnataka throw up a fractured verdict? A brittle coalition government will come to power. The please-all government cannot afford to displease any of its partners. It will be preoccupied with more important issues like holding the belligerent coalition partners together so President’s rule and / or another election can be avoided. So the Karnataka government in such a case will plead its inability to accede to the Tamilnadu government’s request to give the go-ahead to the Hogenakkal Scheme. It may again ask the Tamilnadu government through the Madam from Delhi, Sonia Gandhi, to wait until a ‘stable’ popular government is in place. So the Tamilnadu government may be asked to wait until a popular and stable government assumes office in Karnataka – a big ‘and’ indeed!
Additionally, it was a popular Karnataka government that gave the go-ahead to the Hogenakkal scheme way back which the present regime in Karnataka refuses to honour. In the circumstances, can the Tamilnadu government attach any credence in future to the undertaking of a popular Karnataka government is the question.
Jayalalitha conveniently forgets that she was the chief minister of Tamilnadu for sometime, post-1998. Why did she not take up the dormant project then? As the PMK boss Ramadoss (father of the Union Health Minister) rightly says, if either the DMK or AIADMK which ruled the state post-1998 had implemented the scheme promptly, things would not have come to such a pass. A stitch in time saves nine and the Chennai Madam had better realise that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others.
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Karunanidhi’s allegation irks PMK
S Shivakumar, Merinews
07 April 2008, Monday: KARUNANIDHI HAS alleged that at a time when even the AIADMK and other opposition parties stood by the ruling DMK on the Hogenakkal issue, its own ally, the PMK, let it down. This has evoked a passionate response from the PMK’s founder-president Ramadoss, father of the Union Health minister, Anbumani. Ramadoss is surprised that Karunanidhi should have made such an allegation even after going through the statements issued by the AIADMK boss and other opposition leaders.
Ramadoss said he only wanted to know why the implementation of the Hogenakkal project, which was cleared by the governments of India and Karnataka way back in 1998 was delayed. Karunanidhi himself had admitted that in September 1998, the government of India had approved of the utilisation of 1.4 TMCFT of Cauvery water by the Tamilnadu government for the purpose.
Thus, it was a fact that the project, which had been fully and finally cleared, could not be implemented even in ten years. That did not amount to faultfinding on his part. According to the chief minister, the project was backburnered pending sanction of funds by a Japanese agency.
When the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri had been risking their health by consuming water with high-fluoride content, where was the necessity to wait until the Japanese funds arrived? A government with an annual budget of Rs 50,000 crores could have easily spared Rs 1,000 crores for the drinking water project and implemented it.
The 2006-07 budget of the Tamilnadu government had set aside Rs 671 crores for a project that envisaged provision of drinking water to the people of Ramanathapuram district from the river Cauvery. Work on the project would commence soon, according to a government announcement.
If provision of drinking water to the people of Ramanathapuram district was vital, was it not equally vital to provide drinking water to the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts who had been risking their health by consuming water with high-fluoride content for years? It was ironical to imply that the Hogenakkal project would be taken up only upon receipt of Japanese funds and until then the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri would have to grin and bear it.
The DMK government, which assumed office in 2006, had tabled three reports on the state’s finances so far. Each report disclosed that a sum of Rs 750 crores had been set aside for distribution, free of cost, of colour TVs. Thus Rs 2,250 crores had been set-aside so far for the free colour TV scheme. To provide water to the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri under the Hogenakkal Scheme, just half of the said outlay of Rs 2,250 was adequate.
In the circumstances, why the government of Tamilnadu should await funds from the Japanese agency? Ramadoss wondered what sin did the people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri commit to warrant such a treatment. He also wondered why Karunanidhi should fault him when all he did was to call a spade a spade. A chief minister who claimed he would deliver on his promise now claimed that ‘one could expect quick decisions from a government but not hasty decisions’ (vide, ‘Krishna Steals a March on Deve Gowda’, dated April 6, 2008).
Ramadoss would not like to comment on Karunanidhi’s statement that the project was put on hold to ensure peace until a new government assumed office in Karnataka after the polls. But what was the guarantee that the government that assumed power in Karnataka after the polls would co-operate with Tamilnadu in the implementation of the Hogenakkal project? (vide, ‘Hogenakkal Issue: Jaya Blasts Karunanidhi!’ dated April, 6).
According to Ramadoss, a smug Krishna, once back in power, might take the issue to the Supreme Court, for all Karunanidhi knew. After all, Krishna pioneered the strategy of taking issues to the Supreme Court to buy time. Had Karunanidhi been assured that the Supreme Court would not be approached on the issue?