MULLAI – PERIYAR DAM BELONGS TO TAMIL NADU
PARLIAMENT SPEECH BY Kumari Thanthai MARSHAL A. NESAMONY
Thursday, 15 December 1955.
Shri Nesamony: This is according to the Travancore State Manual. The historian of the Travancore-Cochin State says that the Raja of Punjar was the descendant of the Pandyan kings and that he used to sign as ‘Meenakshi Sundaram’. It is in evidence that tax was being collected by the Raja of Punjar through petty chieftains called Manadirs, and receipts had been issued under the seal of ‘Madurai Meenakshi Thunai’. So this area had been under the sway of the Naiks of Madura under the Pandyan kings, and it had never been a territory of Travancore till 1889. The precursors of the modern KDHP Kannan Devan Hill Products Company—when they first entered into an agreement, executed the agreement with the Raja of Punjar. That was in 1879. The Secretary of State for India when he executed the agree ment on behalf of the Periyar Lake Project, executed it in favour of the Maharaja of Travancore. When the agreement was renewed and the lease was extended in 1889, it was executed in favour of the Maharaja of Travancore. So it is clear that during that period -1879 – 1889 – this change took place. It is said that the Maharaja of Travancore got it ona lease from the Raja of Punjar. What ever that may be, till 1935, there was absolutely no access from the Travancore area to this area of Devikulam and Peermede. It is borne out by the Census Report of 1951,that this area is approachable from the Madurai district through the passes of Thevaram, Kudalur, or Kumli, Bodinakkannur, Kambam, and Shivagiri. These are the passess through which trade flowed. That is admitted. As it formed part of Madras State, these people came and settled there and have now their habitation there.
The Commission has stated that the population there is migrating, that it is a floating population. I say it is not stated as to who stated that viewpoint before the Commission. It is not stated how they got the figures whereas in the case of other matters, they have indicated that such and such State or such and such organizations have stated a certain viewpoint. We are led to believe that interested capitalists who make themselves rich by the labour of this population, and the anti-Tamil Praja-Socialist Government, which was then in power in Travancore-Cochin, might have submitted these things to the Commission. They say that this will relieve congestion in the littoral area. The area of the Kerala State has now been increased. It is 14,080 sq. miles. The area of Travancore – Cochin is 9,154 sq. miles and more than 5,000 sq. miles of territory is being added to this area. There is no room for colonisation of Devikulam and Peermede. In the northern portion of Devikulam is the Anjanad.
This Anjanad consists of the villages of Maraiyur. Kizhanthur, Kottakornber, Vattavada, Kanthalur and Nachivayal consisting of 112 sq. miles and the KDHP company 215 sq. miles, the cardamom area 215 sq. miles the Game Sanctuary 305 sq miles and the tea gardens 97 sq. miles and the Periyar lake has a water spread area of 13 sq miles the Catchment area being 305 sq miles, and that constitutes the game sanctuary as we1l. It is a very small area of forests and grass land that remains and so the argument that the people .living in the littoral area
will be relieved of congestion is absolutely unfounded. On the other hand, the P.S.P. Government started a colonisation scheme in Maraiyur in Anjanad with the evident intention of ousting the Tamil population from there. The same government started a coloniation in the cardamom area with the intention of ousting the Tamil people there—at Kallar—so that all these things have been done with the idea of ousting the Tamilians and that has been made clear on the floor of the Legislative Assembly by the then Chief Minister, when he said’, If that programme of the PSP government had been pushed through Shri. Kamaraj Nadar would not have claimed these for Madras’. That was the attitude of the Praja Socialist Government then in power. It did not stop with that. In the debate on the States Reorganisation Commission’s Report in the Travancore-Cochin Legislative Assembly, Shri Pattom Thanu Pillai has said that the labourers from Madurai must be stopped, not now, but for ever, because the Malayalees and the people from Travancore-Cochin must secure work there. That is the attitude that lies behind the whole thing. That is the attitude that prompted them to demand the Devikulam and Peermede taluks.
Now, I would just refer to what made these protagonists of Aikya Kerala to start this movement for Aikya Kerala. Our hon. friend Shri Kelappan, as President of the Kerala Provincial Congress Committee and the Aikya Kerala Committee presented a memorandum or an explanatory note on the answers to the questionnaire of the Linguistic Provinces Commission. I will refer to a certain passage which will show the animosity that dominated the Keralites at that time against the Tamilians:
“The multi-lingual miscellany called the Madras Province will have to be liquidated. It is a mere accident of British Indian History. It was never meant as an arena for Parliamentary Self – Government. Its recent history must teach us the lesson that Parliamentary autonomy ill suits its incongruous being. The competition among the linguistic groups transcends all party alignments and endangers its efficiency and usefulness. A Tamilian majority cannot continue for all time to be the arbiter of the destinies of the people of Kerala.”
It is that spirit that dominates the colonisation scheme, that dominates the request that was made that Peermede and Devikulam must go to the Kerala State. It is said that Kerala would not be a viable State; if Devikulam and Peermede are taken away. It will be a deficit State or economically backward. In the Five Year Plan that is now proposed for Travancore—Cochin State the revenue surplus for the coming five years is estimated at Rs. l4.7 crores. I say that the anticipated deficit or the statement that it will not be viable is absolutely unfounded. It is said by the Commission that the Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress granted that the two pakuthis—especially this area—are absolutely necessary for the economic well-being of this place. May I be permitted just to quote a line or a few sentences from the memorandum which we submitted to the States Reorganisation Commission which has now turned out to be an argument against us?
“The Assembly Constituency of Devikulam comprises the whole of Devikulam Taluk except Pallivasal Pakuthy where the Hydro-Electric Works are located. It comprises also the whole of Peermede Taluk except Peruvanthanam Pakuthy which includes the township of Mundakayam and the rubber estates owned by Syrian Christians mostly. The Travancore Tamil Nadu Congress has no objection to exclude these two Pakuthis from the area that is now sought to be merged with the Madras State for purposes of a settlement.”
This passage is now being taken hold of by the States Reorganisation Commission and that is being used as an argument against us to say that we have more or less granted that this area is absolutely necessary for the economic development of the proposed Kerala State. I submit that it is a twisting of the facts that we have put forward before the Commission. This area is absolutely necessary for the development of the projects of the Madras State.
As I submitted, the Periyar Dam has 13 sq. miles of water spread area plus a catchment area of 305 sq. miles. It becomes an absolute necessity for Madras because it pays a royalty for the waters that have been impounded at the Periyar lake to irrigate 190 thousand acres of paddy land in the Madurai district. The Government of Madras wanted to start a Hydroelectric project in the Periyar head – works near Peryakulam but the Praja Socialist government in charge at that time would not give them sanction unless they paid another royalty for the use of the water to develop electricity. The foundation stone for the Periyar Hydro-electric scheme has been laid at Peryakulam. There are two other schemes which are to be included in the Second Five Year Plan of the Madras Government; the Alady Dam Upper Periyar Project at an estimated cost of Rs. 7.75 crores and the Pambaiyar Scheme at an estimated cost of Rs. l4.5 crores and the Periyar Hydro-electric project for which the foundation stone has been laid is estimated to cost Rs. 7.98 crores. There is yet another project, the Parambikulam Upper Alayar project at a cost of Rs. 13.2. crores. I understand that the Travancore-. Cochin Government would not allow the officers of the Madras Government to pass through their territory to go to the Upper Alayar project or to make a survey and fix the site to put up a dam within the Madras territory itself. I find, on the other hand, the Travancore – Cochin Government has absolutely no scheme included in the Second Five Year Plan for the development of the waters of any of the streams that are flowing down from this area. Therefore, it is an actual necessity -for the Madras State and I submit that these two taluks should be merged with the Madras State.
Finally, it is the human problem in this area that we want to be considered in this matter. You go and ask the tea bushes of the Devikulam Taluk and they will tell you how they were planted by the tender fingers of the Tamilians fed by the bones and ashes of their ancestors, nurtured by the blood of the Tamilians and watered by the sweat of their brow. They would say that is Tamil nadu.
Lok Sabha Debates
14th to 23th December 1955
Vol.1, pp.141 to148.
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