The stand off between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the Mulaperiyar dam issue is continuing unabated. Both sides are not willing to stand down. Kerala is concerned over the safety of the dam and the risk it poses to thousands of the people inhabiting the area close to the dam and those who could come under the impact of the water in the event of something happening to the dam. On the other side we have Tamil Nadu which gets water for its farmers from this dam and therefore gets its food security taken care of to a great extend by the dam holding the water. It is also interesting that Kerala gets vegetables and other food items from Tamil Nadu!
The issue has been getting headlines on and off with both sides not willing to budge an inch. Tamil Nadu has made sure that it is well represented and that its concerns are taken up in the appropriate tribunals. The allegation that the politicians in Kerala are soft pedalling on this issue could be public emotion more than actual facts.
The release of a movie Dam 999 has also provided lots of fodder for controversy. The images of what could happen if such a dam broke are likely to affect the minds of people to great lengths. A specific documentary on Mullaperiyar has also been doing the rounds.
Youngsters in Kerala are circulating and posting different versions of Armageddon (read Mullaperiyar) and what could happen if a new dam is not constructed. Some of it is fact and some jumping the gun for Indian standards. All religious communities are also joining the protest because this is going violent in its own terms and there is no scope for the sanity of sitting and talking about what this really is.
Classic examples of protests and struggles don’t just involve bringing a lot of people together but brings to the fore the timing of such struggles. Could this not be a way of deflecting interest from real issues and bring all the people together in the name of a dam? The same goes with Tamil Nadu. Water politics can never fail. Could it then be possible to sit at the table and discuss this important issue rather than staging a protest which is funded and motivated by a few?
The other problem lies with the need for a Union (National) government. If we have to decide things based on our local divisions and pay taxes in each and every state and fight each other based on our local identities, what is the need for a national identity? Is it only for the purpose of showing a passport stating that “I am an Indian” while travelling to another country? If we are going to be in constant conflict with one another, why should we call ourselves Indians? The Mullaperiyar standoff is already creating problems on the road. People will be attacked when any sign to identify them will be on show. Vehicles on the road will come under attack based on the registration number and regional identification in terms of language will also be asked for.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have several similarities in language, culture and food. But I will be damned if a dam is going to make us fight on the roads. Why this Kolaveri di is a song sung by Tamil star Dhanush and is a Tanglish version of the conversation between a boy and a girl, the boy heart broken at being left in the cold. The “why did you do this to me, why you dumped me?” could be translated in the dam context as “why did you dam(n) me?” Why this kolaveri di(a)?