Ahead of a crucial meeting of an Empowered Committee here on December 5, Kerala has filed an application before the panel, reiterating its demand for the construction of a new dam and arguing that “it is a bona fide proposal.” The committee is headed by the former Chief Justice of India, A.S. Anand.
Rejecting Tamil Nadu's charge that Kerala's Detailed Project Report (DPR) for a new dam was an incomplete exercise and that Kerala was not bona fide on this count, the rejoinder said: “Kerala reiterates that its proposal for [a] new dam is bona fide, and the DPR represents a complete exercise for the Empowered Committee to test the feasibility.”
Kerala said that if the committee approved the feasibility of a new dam, it would immediately approach the Central Water Commission for approval and during the pendency of its application before the Commission, the supplementary volume of the DPR would also be ready.
It asked the committee to ignore Tamil Nadu's objections and accept its offer of a new dam, which “would benefit farmers in Tamil Nadu and secure the life and property of the people of Kerala in the downstream reach of the Periyar Valley.”
Criticising Tamil Nadu for its “obstructive” approach, it said: “It is clearly evident from the repeated accusations and attitude of Tamil Nadu that it is on [an] obstructive path. Tamil Nadu should have adopted a constructive approach and come out with suggestions and recommendations for building a new dam. The attitude of picking holes in the DPR is a destructive approach helping none.”
Kerala maintained that Tamil Nadu had no legal right in the waters of the Periyar. However, having regard to the historical practices, “Kerala recognises the interests of the farmers of Tamil Nadu who depend on Periyar waters” and fixed the water level in the dam at 136 feet. The threat to the safety of the old and weak structure of the dam was posed by two factors: flood and earthquake. The State had produced the reports of the IIT-Delhi on PMF (probable maximum flood) levels.
Kerala also filed a memorandum to bring on record the recent earthquake data and the panic situation faced by the State. Therefore, justifying the need for a new dam, it said: “There is no prejudice to Tamil Nadu. In fact, Tamil Nadu will benefit from more water from the new dam.” The water requirements of Tamil Nadu would be fully satisfied by the new dam.
The approach of Tamil Nadu to geological investigations was misleading, it said.
Keywords: Mullaperiyar dam issue