Officials sources clarified here on Friday that Kerala's expression of willingness for joint control of the proposed new dam on the Mullaperiyar was about water regulation only.

The proposal placed before the Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court earlier was that the ownership, control and maintenance of the new dam would vest with Kerala. A joint water regulatory board could be in charge of water regulation.

The only change that had been proposed to this position was that the representatives of the Centre too could be included in the regulatory board. The details were subject to negotiation.

Chairman of the Mullaperiyar Special Cell M.K. Parameswaran Nair said that the proposal was in consonance with the arrangements with Tamil Nadu over the Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP) and the Siruvani Water Supply Scheme. In case of the PAP, the dams were under control of Tamil Nadu. Kerala was controlling the Siruvani dam. In both cases, a joint water regulatory board oversaw water regulation.

The chairman said the Siruvani dam, supplying water to Coimbatore, was funded by Tamil Nadu. In the case of new Mullaperiyar dam, Kerala had agreed to bear the cost.

Reports denied

Mr. Nair said that reports that had appeared in certain media that he, as Chief Engineer of the State Electricity Board, had advised the then Kerala Chief Minister K. Karunakaran to create a scare over safety of the Mullaperiyar dam in 1979 were baseless. The allegation was that this advice was given so that the then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran could be persuaded to lower the Mullaperiyar reservoir level so that the Idukki reservoir which was short of water could get water from the Mullaperiyar.

He said that he was not even in the country at that time. He was on long leave from the Electricity Board, and was working as Assistant Executive Engineer in the State Organisation for Industrial Design and Construction under the Ministry of Industries of Iraq in Bagdad from 1975 to 1980. He became Chief Engineer of the Electricity Board only in 1991. He was associated with the Mullaperiyar issue only from 1996 when he was named to head a technical committee, after his retirement from the Board.

Mr. Nair added that the Idukki project was designed excluding the catchment of the Mullaperiyar. The project had a catchment area almost equal to that of the Mullaperiyar reservoir.