The ministerial-level talks between Kerala and Tamil Nadu on the inter-State Parambikulam-Aliyar river water sharing agreement held here on Sunday succeeded in breaking the impasse on the protracted dispute between the two States.

Driven by the worsening drought conditions and acute scarcity of water in Coimbatore and Palakkad, the two sides adopted a conciliatory approach during the discussions. Under the negotiated settlement reached at the day- long talks, the Tamil Nadu delegation led by Minister for Water Resources K.V. Ramalingam agreed to release 100 cusecs of water to the Chittupuzha basin in Palakkad district. In return, Tamil Nadu will draw 40 cusecs from Siruvani reservoir. Briefing the media after the talks, P.J. Joseph, Minister for Water Resources, Kerala, said the precarious condition of the 12 drinking water schemes depending on the Chitturpuzha had forced Kerala to agree to the release of water from Siruvani (to meet the drinking water needs of Coimbatore). Under the settlement, water from Parambikulam would be released through the Manakadavu weir into the Chitturpuzha to provide drinking water to some of the worst drought affected areas in Palakkad. The 100 cusecs from Parambikulam was expected to help the Chittur area tide over the water shortage. The supply would continue till the arrival of monsoon rains. Tamil Nadu has also agreed to convene a meeting of the Joint Water Regulatory Board next week to release another 100 cusecs of water from Sholayar.

During the discussions, Tamil Nadu raised the issue of getting water from the Neyyar dam in Thiruvananthapuram. The Kerala side, however, ruled out the demand on the ground that the water level in Neyyar was exceedingly low. Tamil Nadu pointed out that they had released up to 82 per cent of water share for Kerala.

While appreciating the stand adopted by Tamil Nadu at the talks, Mr. Joseph said, “Till March, there has been a deficit of 1.3 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) in the supply to Chitturpuzha. In the case of water from Sholayar, the deficit is 3.6 TMC”. He said Kerala would proceed with the plea filed in the Supreme Court against Tamil Nadu. Officials present at the meeting said Tamil Nadu would find it difficult to draw water from the Siruvani dam where the water level was at dead storage level. “They will have to pump the water to wells and take it from there. In the process, they are expected to run up a fuel charge of Rs.1.5 crore. We realize that it is the desperate situation in Coimbatore that is forcing them to do this”. The meeting also agreed to continue the discussions between the two states to review the Parambikulam Aliyar pact.