‘Dam row needs a quick solution'

Finance Minister K.M. Mani, on Monday, sought the immediate intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to settle the Mullaperiyar dam dispute and make the Tamil Nadu government respond creatively to Kerala's offer to construct a new dam to replace the existing 116-year-old structure.

Mr. Mani told presspersons here that the Centre should help find a quick solution, as a failure of the old dam would endanger the lives of over 40 lakh people in five districts of Kerala. He exuded confidence that the Union government would come up with a decision which would help Tamil Nadu change its stance against building a new dam.

The sole solution

“Construction of a new dam is the only solution, and the State government has earmarked a special fund for it in the budget,” he said.

Mr. Mani said the State could never yield to pressure to withdraw its demand that it be allowed to demolish the old structure and build a new dam.

“The dam will be constructed on Kerala's land without causing any damage to the existing one and without disrupting the water-supply schemes of Tamil Nadu,” he said.

The Minister said Kerala was making use of its own financial resources and land to construct a dam at a cost of Rs.600 crore to ensure the security of its people. “If Tamil Nadu is opposing such genuine attempts, we will be compelled to just scoff at their stance and proceed,” he said. Referring to the recent study reports which brought to light the pathetic condition of the dam at a time of frequent tremors, Mr. Mani said the State did not want to entertain further delay on addressing the crucial issue.

“We are ready to give an assurance to the Tamil Nadu government that there will not be any disruption of the water-supply schemes of that State affecting its agriculture sector,” he said.

He urged the Tamil Nadu government to show “broadmindedness” on the issue to protect the lives of people. Kerala wanted to settle the dispute in a legitimate way.

“For alleviating the anxiety of people, Tamil Nadu should cooperate to reduce the water level in the reservoir to 120 feet,” he said.