Staff Reporter

Thrissur: Kerala Water Resources Minister N. K. Premachandran has taken exception to AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa’s statement comparing Kerala’s demand for a new dam at Mullaperiyar to China’s attempts to build one on the River Brahmaputra within its territory.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Mr. Premachandran termed Ms. Jayalalithaa’s remarks irresponsible. “It will create confusion and anxiety among the people of Tamil Nadu and ignite passions. Vested interests are unleashing false propaganda against Kerala’s move to construct a new dam arguing it would deny water to five districts in Tamil Nadu. I categorically state that one of the primary objectives of the new dam is to provide water to these districts. Moreover, as the new dam is constructed downstream, 1,300 ft below the existing one, Tamil Nadu’s water storage area will increase. How can Tamil Nadu ignore studies by various agencies that the existing 113-year-old dam is seismically, hydrologically, structurally and environmentally unsafe?” he asked.

He questioned Tamil Nadu’s request to the Centre to direct Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh to withdraw permission given to Kerala by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife to carry out a survey in the Periyar Tiger Reserve for a new dam at Mullaperiyar.

“Challenging Mr. Ramesh’s decision is wrong. He rightly played his statutory role,” Mr. Premachandran said.

He said the Kerala Government was ready for talks with Tamil Nadu on the Mullaperiyar issue. “Terms and conditions for the new project may be discussed and fears dispelled. Come what may, the Kerala Government will not withdraw from moves to ensure the safety of thousands of lives threatened by the unsafe dam. As it wants to solve the problems amicably, Kerala will not respond to provocative moves, if any, from Tamil Nadu,” he said.

The Government plans to create awareness among the people of Tamil Nadu about the benefits of the new dam.

Poomala dam

The Minister said the Government had directed the Kerala Engineering Research Institute to submit before November 15 its report of a study on sedimentation in Poomala dam. He said that efforts were on to increase the capacity of the 40-year-old dam.