CHENNAI: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s first year in office was not an easy path strewn with roses. She had to face the fury of natural calamities as well as man-made crisis in the form of inter-state water disputes. However, she proved her mettle by handling these issues deftly and with maturity, and protected the rights of Tamil Nadu.
The Mullaiperiyar dam issue took its viswaroopam last year although the issue has been there for over three decades. When the sensitive issue involving the two states was fanned by certain elements in Kerala, Jayalalithaa handled it with maturity. She made a fervent appeal to the people of Kerala not to fall prey to the false propaganda of vested interests. At the same time, she asked the people of Tamil Nadu to remain calm and assured that there were legal avenues to win the rights of the state. She wrote to both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and her Kerala counterpart Chief Minister Oommen Chandy several times explaining the facts. She requested Chandy to be at guard against unfounded fears and honour the verdict of the Supreme Court with regarding the storage level of Mullaiperiyar dam.
In the end, the report of the experts committee appointed by the Supreme Court to study the safety aspects of the dam submitted its report upholding Tamil Nadu’s view that the dam was indeed strong. It also said that there was no need for constructing a new dam, thus vindicating Jayalalithaa’s stand.
Similarly, Jayalalithaa handled the Cauvery issue with subtle care. She sought justice in the law of the land. She brought it to the notice of the Prime Minister that Karnataka has been unjustly utilising the water available in major reservoirs in the state for its summer irrigation and it failed to provide water to Tamil Nadu as per interim order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal or in accordance with the final award. The Chief Minister, in her letter to the Prime Minister on May 19, asked him to convene the meeting of the Cauvery River Authority to finalise the distress sharing formula for sharing water during crucial months between June to September.
She urged the Centre to notify the final verdict of the tribunal. Vowing to protect the rights of Tamil Nadu in getting the due share of Cauvery water, on March 30, she told the State Assembly that under any circumstances, the State would not allow Karnataka to build a new dam across Cauvery at Mekedhatu.
She said Karnataka cannot build a new dam at Mekedhatu across Cauvery river without getting the consent of Tamil Nadu.