For the first time after the Mullapperiyar issue was snowballed into a major tussle between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, people from both sides of the border sought to find a peaceful resolution to the problem, through public talks, held on Saturday. The get-together comprised of writers, activists, farmers and people from all walks of life, from both sides.
The meet was held in Kottayam as part of the initiative for a people’s dialogue, organised jointly by the Kottayam Public Library and Uyir- a newly-constituted cultural society of Malayalam and Tamil activists.
Although an instant solution could not be found for the deep-rooted embroilment, representatives from both the states have decided carry the talks forward. “We have decided to hold further talks, though the dates have not yet been finalised. The second phase of the talks will be held in Tamil Nadu, the Chalakkudy River Protection Council will organise the third phase of talks in Chalakudy,” said C P Roy, former chairman of the Mullapperiyar Agitation Council.
Meanwhile, around 20 members of the council, under the leadership of chairman Fr Robin Vendanam and general secretary Sabu Vengavelil, attempted to disrupt the talks by protesting against the initiative. When a letter, in support of the new initiative, was read out by V T Balram MLA, the Mullapperiyar council members vehemently opposed the proposal.
Later, four members of the agitation council, including Fr Robin and Sabu Vengavelil, were allowed to put forth their views at the meeting. Heavy security arrangements had been made by the police at the venue, to avoid any untoward incidents. The focus of the talks was only on the possibility of building tunnels to give water to Tamil Nadu and no new alternatives were put forth.
B R P Bhasker, D Vinayachandran, Charu Niveditha, C R Neelakandan, Dr M Gangadharan, Kochouseph Chittilappally, Pokkudan, Tamil writer Anand, Tamil film director Aravind and writer M Ninar were the prominent figures who attended the talks. Tamil writer Charu Niveditha inaugurated the get-together that was held at the K P S Menon Hall, Kottayam. B R P Bhaskar presided over the meeting. The new initiative, ‘Uyir’, was inaugurated by environmentalist Pokkudan and Tamil writer M Ninar. The formal launch was marked by the planting of a sapling in front of the public library hall. The programme, with a catch-phrase “Let’s start a people’s dialogue,” suggests that with the governments and political parties of both sides failing to resolve the stand-off, it was imperative for the people to seek measures to find a peaceful solution through co-operation.