Budging to Tamil Nadu’s pressure, the Centre has kept in abeyance the National Disaster Management Authority’s decision to form an expert panel to prepare a contingency plan on Mullaperiyar dam, till the Supreme Court appointed Empowered Committee submits its report.

NDMA has deferred its decision till the Empowered Committee on the dam submits its report, a Tamil Nadu government release said.

The decision comes days after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying formation of the panel was nothing but succumbing to the ‘subterfuge’ of Kerala and to present a fait accompli to the Supreme Court and the Empowered Committee constituted by it.

Recalling Ms. Jayalalithaa’s December 20 letter, the release said, she had demanded that the memorandum of NDMA, coming under the Prime Minister, be withdrawn as the Supreme Court is looking into the matter.

During her meeting in the city with Singh on December 25, Ms. Jayalalithaa had pressed her demand.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala are locked in a bitter row over the 116 year-old structure, with the latter insisting that it be replaced with a new one, citing safety concerns.

Tamil Nadu is strongly opposed to the move, saying that the dam is strong. The dam issue has led to tension in the border areas of both states in recent weeks.