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Southern discomfort over water again

TN asks the Centre to protect the lives and properties of Tamils and Karnataka after violence on a water project. GC Shekhar reports.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2008 01:58 IST
G.C. Shekhar
G.C. Shekhar
Hindustan Times

The Tamil Nadu Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday condemning violence in Karnataka, where pro-Kannada groups opposed to the Hogenakkal Integrated Water Project attacked theatres screening Tamil movies. The film industry too joined the protest and announced a day-long fast on Friday to oppose the attacks on theatres screening Tamil movies in Karnataka.

Tamil Nadu's angry response followed attacks by activists of Karnataka Rakshana Vedike on Monday demanding that the state stop its water supply project at Hogenakkal by drawing water from the Cauvery and protesting against K. Karunanidhi’s observation that the project would be implemented at “all costs”.

The chief minister reiterated his stand in the Assembly while responding to a call attention motion on the attacks on cinema halls and Tamils Sangam at Ulsoor in Bangalore. "Tamils are anathema to some linguistic fanatics in Karnataka. It has become their full time job to hate us Tamils. They have even stopped the unveiling of the statue of Thiruvalluvar (Tamil poet) who is revered throughout the world. I have refused to participate in any event in Bangalore till this statue is unveiled. First they said no water for our crops now they say no to even drinking water," he said.

The resolution supported by all parties urged the Centre to immediately intervene to "maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the nation". It asked the Centre to protect the lives and properties of Tamils and Karnataka so that the country's unity was not threatened by such mindless acts. It also sought its support to the implementation of the Hogenakkal water project.

Ever since Karunanidhi laid the foundation of the Rs 1,334 crore Hogenakkal scheme in February to supply 160 million litres of water a day to 40 lakh people of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts, there have been protests from Karnataka. The protests have been on two counts — use of Cauvery water for supply of drinking water when the dispute over its sharing is pending before the tribunal. Secondly, Karnataka has been laying claim to Hogenakkal where the Cauvery enters Tamil Nadu, though the borders were drawn more than 50 years ago.

Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary L.K. Tripathi explained that Karnataka had already given its approval for the project. "On June 29, 1998, after Tamil Nadu withdrew its objection to the Bangalore Water Supply project (water to be taken from the Cauvery) Karnataka had said it had no objection to the Hogenakkal project."

With the Tamil filmdom also getting into the act the dispute has escalated into an all-out confrontation. If Kannada artistes fail to participate in the fast, film workers will not co-operate in their movies, said the resolution passed by three bodies of the Tamil film world.