Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has advised the Union Water Resources Ministry to arrange an early meeting between officials of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to sort out outstanding issues concerning the Mullaperiyar dam dispute and allay genuine concerns.

In his reply [the text of which is available in the website of the Prime Minister's Office] to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's two recent letters, Dr. Singh said, “I believe that nothing should be said or done to create undue alarm among the people. I am sure that, given goodwill on both sides, an amicable and mutually acceptable solution can be found through a process of dialogue and communication.”

Responding to Ms. Jayalalithaa's appeal, Dr. Singh said he had noted her points and heard the issues raised by a delegation of Kerala Ministers. He pointed out to the delegation that the matter was currently before the Empowered Committee constituted by the Supreme Court.

Reply to Chandy

In her reply to the appeal of Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to her to “take urgent and effective measures” to bring down the dam's water level to 120 feet from 136 ft, Ms. Jayalalithaa wanted the Kerala government to abide by the Supreme Court's order in 2006 and allow the water level to be raised to 142 ft.

She noted that the Supreme Court had, in its order, taken into consideration all the safety aspects of the dam. Also, the Empowered Committee was looking into the safety of the dam.

She recalled that the Tamil Nadu government carried out a series of measures from 1980 to 1994 on the recommendations of the Chairman, Central Water Commission, to strengthen the dam and “after all these measures have been carried out, the retrofitted Mullaperiyar Dam is as good as new.” The Supreme Court had also factored this in, while pronouncing its judgment in 2006, allowing Tamil Nadu initially to store water up to 142 ft.

Disputing Mr Chandy's contention that there were 22 tremors in the last four months, she stated that as per the Meteorological Department's data there were only four mild tremors, that too far away from the vicinity of the dam site, which did not have any effect on the seepage in the dam.

“The seepage of the dam is well within the permissible limits as per the Indian Standards code. The possibility of tremors of even medium magnitude does not exist in the Mullaperiyar dam site.

“The possibility of the dam breaching due to flood waters and collapsing was not logical since all eventualities had been factored in during the strengthening of the dam.

“While my Government and I would always seek to protect the safety and security of every Indian, we should also guard against unfounded fears overtaking reason and ground realities. Informed decision making at the Government level should be based on reason rather than on extraneous factors,” she added.