Jaya steps up pressure on Centre on dam row

Chennai: Keeping up the heat on the Centre over the raging Mullaperiyar dam row, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to advise Kerala not to build a new dam, an issue that has brought the two neighbouring states on a confrontationist path.

In her first meeting with the Prime Minister since the Mullaperiyar dam row erupted afresh, Jayalalithaa submitted a 18-page memorandum raising a host of other issues including a financial package on the lines of aid given to West Bengal citing the state`s `fragile` financial system.

In the memorandum presented during the 40-minute meeting with Singh in Raj Bhavan, Jayalalithaa avoided reference to the standoff over the Koodankulam nuclear power project but merely sought an additional 1,000 mw noting that the project was "getting delayed".

It was not clear whether the Koodankulam issue was raised during talks by Jayalalithaa who recently wrote to Singh saying she was amazed at his announcement in Moscow that the project would be operationalised in the next few weeks. In her missive, Jayalalithaa had asked the Prime Minister to ensure that the fears of the local population over safety concerns were allayed before taking `any precipitate` action.

Devoting a major part of the memorandum to the dam row, Jayalalithaa pressed for deployment of the Central Industrial Security Force to safeguard the 116-year old reservoir, which is under Tamil Nadu`s control on a 999 year lease. In the memorandum, a copy of which was released to media, she reiterated her opposition to the National Food Security Bill saying it was "replete with confusion and inaccuracy" and sought the state`s exemption from its purview.

Taking up the issue of recurring attacks on fishermen allegedly by Sri Lankan Navy on which she has written several letters to Singh, she said India should raise the matter strongly during the proposed January talks with Colombo. She urged for protection of the `traditional fishing rights` of Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay and their safety and security. Earlier, Jayalalithaa received Singh and greeted him warmly presenting a shawl and a bouquet on his arrival at the Chennai airport.

Singh, on his first visit to the state after the AIADMK came to power routing the DMK in the assembly polls, would tomorrow participate in functions to commemorate the 125th Birth Anniversary of mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan in the city and Karaikudi in Sivaganga district. DMK chief M Karunanidhi is scheduled to meet Singh tomorrow morning during which he would raise the Mullaperiyar dam issue.