With reference to the editorial published in The Hindu on November 25, 2006 under the title `No room for chauvinism', Tamil Nadu Minister for Public Works Durai Murugan writes: The Hindu in its editorial has narrated the developments that have now taken place in the Mullaperiyar dam issue. While the report carries some factual information, it fails to take note of the decisions the Supreme Court of India pronounced on February 27, 2006. The Supreme Court, while delivering its order on February 27, 2006, heard in detail the arguments of all the parties, the findings of the Expert Committee on the safety of the dam, the environmental and ecological aspects, the effects of earthquakes, etc., and ordered the raising of the water level initially from 136 feet to 142 feet.

It is pertinent to quote the observations of the Supreme Court regarding the safety of the dam: "The experts having reported about the safety of the dam and the Kerala Government having adopted an obstructionist approach cannot now be permitted to take shelter under the plea that these are disputed questions of fact. There is no report to suggest that the safety of the dam would be jeopardised if the water level is raised for the present to 142 feet. The report is to the contrary ...

"We permit the State of Tamil Nadu to carry out further strengthening measures as suggested by the CWC and hope that the State of Kerala would cooperate in the matter. The State of Kerala and its officers are restrained from causing any obstruction ... The writ petition and the connected matters are disposed of by permitting the water level of the Mullaperiyar dam being raised to 142 feet."

The present suit filed by the Government of Tamil Nadu before the Supreme Court is to challenge the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act 2006 in respect of the Mullaperiyar dam. Tamil Nadu prayed for an interim injunction against the Act. However, on the plea made by the Government of Kerala that talks could be attempted to resolve the issue, the Supreme Court observed: "The two State Governments independently or with the intervention of the Union of India may try to sort out, if possible, the dispute. List in November 2006."

The Supreme Court has not declined to stay the Kerala Amendment Act as the case is yet to be argued, and to that extent the editorial has erred. Tamil Nadu intention is that all the river water issues with the neighbouring States should be resolved through negotiations. In the light of the above, and also on the observations made by the Supreme Court on September 25, 2006, the Government of Tamil Nadu has agreed to hold talks with the Government of Kerala under the auspices of the Government of India to sort out the dispute.

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