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State to press for new dam at Mullaperiyar

COLLECTIVE THINKING: An all-party meeting convened by the Government to discuss the Mullaperiyar issue in progress in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

COLLECTIVE THINKING: An all-party meeting convened by the Government to discuss the Mullaperiyar issue in progress in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar  

Special Correspondent

Meet authorises Chief Minister to raise the demand

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An all-party meeting, convened by Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan here on Monday to discuss the Mullaperiyar issue, authorised him to press the Tamil Nadu Government to agree to have a new dam built at Mullaperiyar to replace the 110-year-old lime and mortar structure there.

Briefing the media after the meeting, Mr. Achuthanandan said all leaders who participated in the discussion had expressed grave concern over Tamil Nadu's insistence to store water in the Mullaperiyar reservoir beyond the height of 136 feet, to which the maximum permissible level was brought down in 1979 when the dam showed signs of weakness.

He said the agreement between Kerala and Tamil Nadu on the Mullaperiyar waters was for an unheard of period of 999 years. No dam could survive for such a long period. The existing structure, in fact, had far outlived its normal period of life. It was unfair on the part of Tamil Nadu to ask Kerala to take the risks involved in allowing the old structure to stand.

He said the existing structure did not even have the sluice system to let out water and ease the pressure on it in the event of an emergency. The meeting wanted the State Government to put in place a disaster management mechanism along the downstream stretches of the dam to mitigate the damage in the event of any untoward development.

Mr. Achuthanandan said Kerala's efforts at the meeting with Tamil Nadu on the subject, scheduled for November 29, would be to find an amicable solution to the problem, convincing Tamil Nadu about the unreasonable nature of its insistence. The Supreme Court had, in its recent ruling, observed that this issue, as also all similar water-sharing issues between the States, should be sorted out amicably through discussions.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, leaders of all political parties and Ministers attended the discussion. Minister for Water Resources N. K. Premachandran was also present with the Chief Minister when he briefed the media.

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