The Centre on Wednesday appealed to Tamil Nadu and Kerala to amicably settle the issue of Mullaperiyar Dam between them and expressed its willingness to play a role of “facilitator”.
“It is amongst themselves that the matter can be sorted out. We can only play a role of facilitator. We want the matter to be sorted out amicably between the two states,” Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters in New Delhi, stressing that water was a state subject.
“There is no power with Government of India to impose any decision of its own,” Mr. Bansal said and added that the Centre could not take any action till Supreme Court-appointed special committee headed by Justice A.S. Anand looked into the safety aspect of the dam.
Meanwhile, MPs from Kerala on Wednesday decided to take up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The decision of the Kerala MPs to meet Dr. Singh came after DMK MPs raked up in the Lok Sabha the issue of a film based on damage wreaked by the collapse of a dam and demanded a ban on its release. The members complained that the film was based on the story of Mullaperiyar Dam, over which Tamil Nadu and Kerala are locked in a legal dispute.
Senior Congress MP P.C. Chacko said all Kerala MPs will meet Prime Minister to demand that Kerala should be allowed to construct a new dam in place of the existing structure which is weakened by the recent tremors, posing a threat to not only the livelihood but lives of millions of people.
“We will meet the Prime Minister. We have already sought an appointment,” Mr. Chacko said.
Tamil Nadu has always been opposed to constructing a new dam near the existing structure, which supplies water to its several southern districts.
Describing the issue as “serious”, CPI (M) Rajya Sabha MP K.N. Balagopal said the central government should urgently intervene to amicably settle the issue with Tamil Nadu.
Kerala Congress (M) MP Jose K Mani said three districts including Idukki, Kottayam and Ernakulam will be wiped off the state’s map, if the dam bursts. He pointed out that tremors had occurred near the 116-year-old dam on November 18.
“Kerala MPs have asked to see the Prime Minister on the issue of Mullaperiyar Dam. Because frankly for us it is now question of life,” former Union Minister and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor said. He said cracks have appeared in the dam due to tremors.
“If there is a major earthquake, literally the geography of the area will change,” Mr. Tharoor said and claimed that lives of 25 lakh people were in danger.
“It is a very serious matter. This is not something that one can reduce to a water dispute. Kerala is willing to give water to Tamil Nadu. (We) Just need a new dam to replace the one which is so vulnerable. That’s all the issue is and we need to explain this to the Prime Minister,” he said.