The State Cabinet has decided to bring the curtain down on the controversy over Advocate-General K.P. Dandapani's submission before the Kerala High Court on the Mullaperiyar issue on Friday and submit a detailed affidavit to the court before the related case comes up for hearing again on December 15.
The Cabinet, to which the Advocate-General was summoned on Wednesday, heard Mr. Dandapani's explanation on the issue and constituted a four-member Cabinet subcommittee to prepare the detailed affidavit in consultation with the Advocate-General and officials in charge of disaster management, revenue, power, and water resources. The members of the subcommittee are Finance Minister K.M. Mani, Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph, and Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed. The subcommittee held its first meeting later in the day.
The Cabinet, which also heard Mullaperiyar cell chairman M.K. Parameswaran Nair, also decided to file an interim appeal before the Supreme Court and send an all-party delegation to Delhi. The timing of the delegation would be decided depending on the convenience of the Prime Minister. The government expected the report of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee, very soon. The Revenue Minister would go to Roorkee for discussions on the subject. (The State Government had signed up the IIT to conduct a long-pending ‘dam break analysis' on the ageing Mullapperiyar dam.)
A Community-based Disaster Management Unit would be set up in Idukki under the State Disaster Management Authority and a digital elevation modelling satellite map would be prepared as part of the disaster-mitigation plans at Mullaperiyar. The Cabinet also decided to sanction Rs.2 crore immediately to the State Disaster Mitigation Fund.
Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the Advocate-General had categorically denied having told the High Court that there was no connection between the water level and the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam. The Cabinet, he said, had decided to submit a detailed affidavit to the court for absolute clarity on the issue and taking into account the demand at an all-party meeting for a change in the submissions made by the Advocate-General in the court. The government viewed the controversy over the AG's submission a closed chapter. The State had a much larger goal to achieve: construction of a new dam and lowering of the water level in the existing dam, he added.
Appeal for restraint
The Chief Minister called upon the people of the State to observe total restraint on the dam issue and said that while agitations and display of emotions were natural given the sensitivity of the issue, these should not be allowed to go out of control and result in violence in any form. Even some minor incidents on this side of the border had resulted in disproportionate show of emotions on the other side. Kerala did not want the Mullaperiyar issue to be turned into a conflict between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The State's position was clear: water for Tamil Nadu, safety for its people.
Kerala wanted to resolve the issue keeping the good relations with Tamil Nadu intact. Everybody should cooperate with the government in this endeavour. The spirit of the resolution adopted by the all-party meeting held here on Tuesday was the same, Mr. Chandy said and added that the State Police Chief was already in Idukki and was in close touch with Tamil Nadu officials, who were offering all assistance.