Kerala government on Monday reiterated its willingness for bilateral discussions with Tamil Nadu or a dialogue through the Centre to resolve the vexed Mullaperiyar dam issue but insisted it would not compromise on the demand for a new dam.
“Kerala is ready for bilateral talks with Tamil Nadu or a dialogue through the Centre to solve the issue. We are equally committed to provide the same quantity of water to Tamil Nadu as it is getting now,” Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said speaking at a seminar on ‘Mullaperiyar— the way forward’ here.
However Kerala would not compromise on its demand for a new dam as the safety of its people is of prime concern, he said.
On reports in Tamil Nadu that Kerala’s pitch for a new dam was to deny water to that state, he said Kerala was ready to enter into agreement with “anybody” to ensure water supply.
Stating that his government would deal firmly with any attacks on Tamil people in Kerala over the Mullaperiyar issue, Mr. Chandy said reported instances of violence against Malayalees in Tamil Nadu is a cause for concern.
However Tamil Nadu officials are extending all cooperation for the safe passage of Malayalee students, who wish to come home during their Christmas holidays, he said.
“Kerala has also arranged to bring anybody from Tamil Nadu if they want to come to the state,” Mr. Chandy said.
The chief minister said Kerala has full faith in the judiciary and was not worried about the outcome of Supreme Court verdict on the issue. “The only concern for us is that if there is delay in court proceedings.”
“Let there be a decision on the safety aspect of Kerala people, all other matters could be decided in due course through discussions,” Mr. Chandy said.
Mr. Chandy said that as far as the Mullaperiyar issue is concerned, “every second is important for Kerala as it involves the lives of lakhs of people. For Tamil Nadu, every day is important, as water is vital for them,” he said.
Mr. Chandy also released a book authored by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee Ramesh Chennithala titled ‘Why the demand for a New Dam?’ in which he has contended that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalithaa’s claim that the dam is safe was only “turning a blind eye to the facts.”
Mr. Chennithala said the dam was like ‘Damocles sword’ hanging over Kerala and that a series of tremors in and around the dam site over the past few weeks had aggravated the situation.
He also hoped that Ms. Jayalalithaa would welcome Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s suggestion to settle the matter in an amicable manner.
Meanwhile, the indefinite relay fast sponsored by Mullaperiyar Samara Samithi at Chappath in Idukki, where the dam is located, continued attracting supporters from different walks of life.