With Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the Siruvani dam in Attappady in Kerala not receiving any response, farmers and political activists have stepped up protests against the project in Coimbatore since the last week.
On August 27, Jayalalithaa had written to the PM asking him to intervene to withdraw a central committee recommendation for an environmental impact assessment study on the proposal to build the dam. The continuation of the project proposed by the Kerala government is dependent on environmental clearances granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, since it affects parts of the Western Ghats that have been declared as ecologically sensitive by the MoEF.
The Siruvani is a sub-tributary of the Cauvery which flows through and supplies water to districts in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The protestors in Coimbatore say that they have been protesting the dam project since 2002 because of the effect it will have on three districts in Tamil Nadu. “It will affect three districts – Coimbatore, Tirupur and Erode. Siruvani river is the main source of drinking water for these places. It will also affect the agriculture in these areas,” said K Ramakrishnan, President of Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam.
Political activists are demanding that the project be abandoned immediately, and no environmental clearances be given for it. Dr Krishnasamy, President of Puthiya Tamilagam, said, “The Central government should not provide approval for this project. This is our request. It will affect three districts which has about one crore people residing in them,” said Krishnasamy.
Meanwhile, the DMK has announced a protest meeting in Chennai on September 3, targeting both the Kerala government’s decision to go ahead with the project, and the Tamil Nadu government’s failure to prevent it.