The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday condemned Kerala's announcement that construction of a new Mullaperiyar dam will begin this year.

Referring to the announcement by Kerala Governor R.S. Gavai in his address to the Kerala Assembly on Friday, Finance Minister K. Anbazhagan, while presenting to the State Assembly the interim budget for 2011-2012, termed it an act of showing disrespect to the Supreme Court, when the matter was pending before it.

On the Mullaperiyar issue, the Kerala government has been acting in a manner that was violative of the Constitution and harming inter-State relations. The Tamil Nadu government would urge the Centre to counsel Kerala that it should desist from behaving in such a way that would affect the relationship between the two States. At an appropriate time, the latest development would be raised before the Supreme Court, the Finance Minister said.

[Originally, this response was not part of the Finance Minister's speech. Even as the Finance Minister was reading out the text of the budget speech, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi consulted Law Minister Durai Murugan before a note on the subject was passed on to Mr. Anbazhaganthe through Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.

The original text of the Minister's speech contained references to the formation of a committee under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice of India A.S. Anand; inclusion of former Supreme Court Judge A.R. Lakshmanan in the committee; inspection of the committee at the Mullaperiyar dam site in December last year and the resumption of arguments this month.]

On the inter-State dispute concerning the Palar, Mr. Anbazhagan said the Central Water Commission was trying to arrive at an amicable settlement by preparing a study report on the water potential and its present utility in Palar basin and holding discussions with engineers of both States.

On the farm front, he said the total area under cultivation in Tamil Nadu would be 60 lakh hectares this year, 3.44 per cent more than the previous year's figure. Food production was expected to touch 90 lakh tonnes. An allocation of Rs.174 crore was made this year under the National Agricultural Development Programme.