As the row between Tamil Nadu and Kerala on the Mullaperiyar dam is generating a lot of heat both inside and outside Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is said to have hinted that the Centre is trying to work out an amicable settlement, including convening a meeting of between Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Jayalalithaa and Oommen Chandy.
The Prime Minister is said to have told various delegations from the two States on Tuesday that the Centre was concerned as the issue involved the interests of the people of both the States and it would do whatever possible to resolve the matter at the earliest. He would discuss the issue with Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and see what could be done next.
A delegation of Union Ministers from Kerala, comprising Vayalar Ravi, E. Ahamed, K.V. Thomas and K.C. Venugopal; a group of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MPs from Tamil Nadu, led by T.R. Baalu; another group of Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu, led by K.S. Alagiri; and Kerala Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph and Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan were among those who met Dr. Singh separately.
Mr. Ahamed told The Hindu that his delegation conveyed the gravity of the situation in Kerala to the Prime Minister and explained how the people of Idukki and neighbouring districts were spending sleepless nights as the area had witnessed as many as 26 tremors since July. Dr. Singh promised to look into the issue immediately.
Mr. Venugopal said the Prime Minister was told that Kerala had promised that it would continue to supply water to Tamil Nadu even after the construction of a new dam. “We asked the Prime Minister to immediately intervene as the issue involved the lives of lakhs of people.”
Mr. Baalu said Dr. Singh was apprised of the “false propaganda” of Kerala about the dam's safety and how the State was flouting the Supreme Court direction in 2004 to increase the water level to 142 feet. Lakhs and lakhs of farmers and other people from five districts of Tamil Nadu would get affected if the State was deprived of water from the existing dam.
Plea to ban film
The delegation also wanted a countrywide ban on the screening of the film, Dam 999, which would create unnecessary fears in the minds of the people, he said.
Mr. Joseph said Kerala wanted to solve the issue amicably and it did not want to confront Tamil Nadu. The State had sought Dr. Singh's intervention to bring down the water level in the dam from the existing danger level of 136 feet to at least 127 feet.
Mr. Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said if Tamil Nadu had any apprehension about a new dam, Kerala was even willing to hand over the maintenance of the new dam with a neutral-third party for continuous water supply to that State.
Echo in Parliament
Earlier MPs from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, cutting across party lines, disrupted the Parliament proceedings, shouting slogans for and against a new dam and later sat on dharnas separately in front of the Gandhi statue in the Parliament complex.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi Lok Sabha member Thol. Thirumavalavan alleged that the new dam slogan was a ploy by Kerala to hoodwink Tamil Nadu people and deprive water later.