Tamil Nadu has refuted Kerala's demand before the Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India, A. S. Anand, for the construction of a new dam in the place of the existing Mullaperiyar structure.

In its response filed before the committee, Tamil Nadu said, “The apprehension on the safety of the dam raised by Kerala is baseless and there is no need to insist on the construction of a new dam when the existing dam has been fully strengthened and has been found safe.”

The committee, which includes two retired Supreme Court judges, Justice K.T. Thomas (Kerala) and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan (Tamil Nadu), is meeting here on August 23 to consider the response of the two States.

Tamil Nadu said: “The proposal of a new dam as an alternative to long-term measures for strengthening was also considered as early as in 1979. However, the new dam was later not found feasible and was dropped.”

It said: “The State of Tamil Nadu is fully concerned with the safety of the dam. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in his opening remarks at the meeting convened by the Union Minister of Water Resources on November 29, 2006 in New Delhi, had specifically stated that the safety of the people living downstream of the Periyar dam would not be compromised under any circumstances and the government was equally conscious of its responsibility to the people living downstream.”

Tamil Nadu said: “Seepage in the dam is minimal and well within the permissible limits. The dam has been strengthened as per the recommendation of the CWC and has been examined by an Expert Committee constituted by the Ministry of Water Resources and the dam has been found to be safe in all respects in the present condition. The dam structure is continuously monitored and is well maintained.”

Pointing that there was enough evidence to support the claim of Tamil Nadu, it said, “There may not be any need for calling for fresh report or evidence.”

Expressing concern at the plight of farmers, Tamil Nadu said, “About 6.8 lakh farmers and agricultural labourers besides 80 lakh people of the five districts of Tamil Nadu, viz., Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram, who were served by the Periyar project for decades, would continue to suffer for inadequate water for irrigation and drinking purposes, and consequent loss of agricultural income, if the water level is continued to be maintained at 136 ft.”

Further, power supply is required for day-to-day maintenance of the dam and for the staff in charge of maintenance. The State of Kerala has not restored power supply, which was disrupted in the year 2000 till date, and the matter is dragging on for the past 10 years.

Power supply is to be restored without any further delay.