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Mullaperiyar dam: Centre calls meeting to reps from states to resolve issue

NEW DELHI: Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharati has called a meeting of water resources ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to discuss the issue of rising water level in the Mullaperiyar dam.

“I have called for a meeting of both the states’ representatives on Saturday (in Delhi) and have also decided to include the Central Water Commission to discuss the rising water level in the Mullaperiyar dam,” she said in New Delhi.

Both Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the two states in dispute over the issue, have been asked to state their arguments at the meeting.

Meanwhile, with the water level rising to 141.8 feet in the dam, Kerala Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash said that the residents won’t be forcefully evacuated. “The district collectors will study the situation and take an appropriate decision,” he added.

A top Kerala official said that the Tamil Nadu government should have transferred the dam water to the Vaigai dam in the state to allay the fears of the people living in and around the Mullaperiyar dam.

“We have found out that today the Vaigai dam is just 37 per cent full and it would have been nice if Tamil Nadu drew the water from Mullaperiyar, which now has water measuring 141.8 feet,” the official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

It was in May this year that the Supreme Court allowed the water level to be raised to 142 ft from the earlier 136 ft and also gave a clean chit to the safety of the dam.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, meanwhile, said Kerala always had very good relations with Tamil Nadu and he would seek the help of the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal to find a solution to this problem.

“Certainly fears are there for the people who live in and around the dam. We are sure that we will be able to defuse the crisis,” said Chandy.

The Tamil Nadu government hasn't let the Kerala government know of the water level touching 141.8 ft. Also, the blueprint for opening the spillway shutters has not yet been handed over to Kerala.

On Wednesday, Mullaperiyar sub-committee chaired by UH Gireesh, Kerala’s representatives George Daniel and NS Praseed and Tamil Nadu’s representatives Madhavan and Soundarrajan visited the dam.

To study about the impact on environment, forest department official V. Gopinath too visited Thekkady on Thursday. As a result of the increase in water, 683 hectares of land were beneath the water level.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British regime. Though the dam is located in Kerala, it is owned, maintained and operated by Tamil Nadu.