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Centre going ahead with Vaipar project

By Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

PATHANAMTHITTA, MARCH 15. The Union Water Resources Ministry is understood to have decided to go ahead with the controversial Pampa-Achencoil-Vaipar Link Project which envisages diversion of certain amount of `surplus' water in the Pampa and Achencoil to the Vaipar in Tamil Nadu, disregarding widespread protests in Kerala against the proposed project.

In a reply to a mass memorandum submitted by the Kerala Karshaka Sanghom to the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on August 18, 2003, the Union Ministry has clarified that the proposed river-linking project ``would not cause any adverse effect on the implementation of the hydro-electric or drinking water projects envisaged by the Kerala State.''

Addressing a press conference here today, the Sanghom leaders, R. Unnikrishna Pillai, Omalloor Sankaran and V.K. Purushothaman Pillai, said the Centre's stand went against the interests of the State. The Sanghom would mobilise public opinion against the project and launch a mass movement against it.

In a letter (dated December 8, 2003) to the Sanghom district secretary, Omalloor Sankaran, the Senior Joint Commissioner to the Union Ministry of Water Resources, M.S. Gupta, says that the National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has proposed diversion of only 20 per cent of the ``3,127 mcm surplus water'' in the two Kerala rivers to Tamil Nadu. According to Mr. Gupta, no salinity intrusion or deterioration of water quality are anticipated in the rivers owing to the diversion project.

``Normally, reduction of natural flow in the river during the non-monsoon season may cause increase in salinity in the coastal areas. Since storage reservoirs are proposed across the Pampa Kal-ar and Achencoil Kal-ar, the regulated discharge from these storages during the non-monsoon season will maintain the quality of groundwater as well as surface water in the region. Hence, the natural cleansing system will not be affected,'' he says.

Mr. Gupta says that ``even though the Pampa and Achencoil are not inter-State rivers, the proposal to transfer the quantum of water through the river-link project has been arrived at after considering various river basin needs in the two Kerala rivers up to 2050 AD.''

The Sanghom leaders maintained that there was no surplus water in the Kerala rivers and the NWDA findings were against the interests of the State.

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