THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as Kerala and Tamil Nadu grapple over the Mullaiperiyar issue, fresh fears over the Pampa-Achencoil-Vaipar river-linking project have put the south-western state in a piquant situation.
Kerala’s claim is that it has not given its assent to interlinking of rivers and, as such, the recent Supreme Court order to constitute a committee for expediting the scheme for 16 linkages across the country is not binding on it.
Though there is no immediate threat to the state’s interests, it is not actually water-rich on an annual scale, and therefore it worries about the political question of how long it can hold ground in the future, especially as it believes Tamil Nadu’s regional politics holds sway in the national mainstream.
If the proposed river linking project is implemented, according to Kerala’s assessment, it is certain that it would lead to destruction of riverine ecosystems and depletion of water resources, leading to acute drought in Central Travancore and upsetting the water balance of the Kuttanad wetland.
“We are not party to the scheme anyway. Hence the judgment is not binding on us,” said Water Resources Minister P J Joseph. “It had been made clear in the judgment itself that the state is not covered in its purview,” said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. “Also, since the west flowing Pampa and Achencoil rivers are not inter-state, the state need not worry much,” said Finance and Law Minister K M Mani.
However, Kerala would be eligible to present only officials in the SC-directed committee, whereas TN and other states which assented to river linkage could be politically represented by ministers.
With the political leadership in the state, unlike in TN, seemingly dithering to rise to the occasion and holding divergent views, it’s feared Kerala will not see a smooth ride in the river linkage project.