Mullaperiyar row: Kerala CM to meet Union minister

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is due to meet Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi/Jaipur: Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy is due to meet Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday and is likely to convey to him the state’s stance on the Mullaperiyar dam row.

Speaking in Jaipur on Monday, on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, Chandy said that during the meeting he would convey to the minister the policy of his government on the controversial issue.

The meeting comes days after the Kerala government stressed on a new dam as the only solution to the contentious issue with Tamil Nadu.

The assertion came even as a Supreme Court-appointed experts committee continues to deliberate on the Mullaperiyar dam.

State Minister of Water Resources PJ Joseph had said that the agreement that was inked on the present dam for a period of 999 years was a grave mistake done by the erstwhile rulers of Travancore.

"Nowhere is such a long-standing agreement in force. We achieved independence long back. We just cannot afford to have any such agreement when a new Mullaperiyar dam is built," Joseph said.

"We can have a similar agreement that is in force in the sharing of the Siruvani dam (situated in Palakkad district) waters between the two states," he added.

State Finance Minister KM Mani also emphasised that Kerala can build a dam in its territory and that is the right of the state and it would be done.

"In my last Budget, that the Assembly had passed, I have kept an allocation for a new dam to be built in place of the present Mullaperiyar dam," he said.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerhead over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. It is located in Kerala and its waters also serve Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu wants the dam`s storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from 136 feet (41.5 metre) to 142 feet (43 metre) as the state`s irrigation needs have shot up.

Kerala is worried that a strong earthquake might damage the dam and cause widespread destruction. It is seeking a new dam and has offered to fund and build it, but Tamil Nadu does not agree.

Experts say if a quake strikes and the dam is damaged, over four million people and their property in districts of Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and parts of Thrissur would be washed away.

(With agency inputs)

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