Kerala Congress(M) chairman and Minister for Finance and Law K.M. Mani has welcomed the Tamil Nadu government's decision to hold official-level talks with Kerala on the Mullaperiyar issue on December 15 and 16 and termed it as a gesture of goodwill.

Addressing a gathering at the venue of the Mullaperiyar agitation here after staging a fast along with Member of Parliament (Kottayam) Jose K. Mani, Mons Joseph, former MLA, and office-bearers of the party on Monday, he said that though it could not be termed a rightful end to the demand raised by the Mullaperiyar Agitation Council for a new dam at Mullaperiyar, it was a right move towards finding a solution to the issue.

He said the issue could be solved with the mediation of the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers of the two neighbouring States sitting around a table. This did not mean that the agitation council should withdraw its strike, he said adding that stir could go on as it was for a public cause. The massive support to the council's stir affirmed the cause for which it stood.

He said that by reducing the water level to 120 ft, the risk elements could be reduced for the time being. ‘‘Even if it is reduced to 110 ft, Tamil Nadu could draw the same quantity of water, while the risk elements could be less.''

The Minister said he came to stage the fast as chairman of the party and as a citizen and not as a Minister and his party stood in solidarity with the people here. He said the State government was seriously considering the option of constructing a protective wall about 1,300 ft downstream of the dam.

Welcoming the report that the empowered committee appointed by the Supreme Court would visit the dam, Mr Mani said it raised the hope of the people towards the realisation of a new dam. He invited Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to visit the dam to see for herself the reality at the grassroots.

More In: Kerala | National