Thiruvananthapuram: Days after the Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee said the Mullaperiyar dam was safe, Kerala on Wednesday stuck to its stand that it would not back out from its demand for a new dam to replace the existing 119-year-old structure, over which it is locked in a row with Tamil Nadu.
Kerala`s assertion came after the state cabinet meeting which discussed the report of the Empowered Committee on Mullaperiyar dam, which also asked the Kerala government to reconsider its proposal to build a new reservoir.
Briefing reporters, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy claimed that the panel`s recommendations favoured the state`s demand for a new dam, to which Tamil Nadu is strongly opposed saying interests of its farmers would be affected.
Asked if the panel had requested the state to reconsider its call for the new dam, he said there was no rethinking on the demand as a new dam was essential to ensure safety of the people in downstream areas.
"The state cabinet`s assessment is that, though with certain conditions attached, the Empowered Committee has given green signal to Kerala`s demand for a new dam. The state will take this stand in the Supreme Court, which is to take a final decision on the matter," Chandy said.
On misgivings voiced by Water Resources Minister P J
Joseph about the report and critical comments made against panel member Justice K T Thomas, Chandy said the Cabinet was of the opinion that Thomas had supported the state`s case.
"He (Justice Thomas) has done his job well. Though he was nominated to the panel by Kerala, he is not an advocate of the state," Chandy said.
water level of the reservoir to 142 ft from 136 feet, which was one of Tamil Nadu`s demands. This stand of Justice Thomas was in tandem with Kerala`s position.
The state did not agree with the panel`s suggestion to raise the water level to 142 feet and wanted the present level of 136 to be maintained till the apex court said the final word on the matter.
Chandy said Kerala would bear the entire expense for building a new dam as the state`s basic concern was the safety of people living in downstream areas and money would not be a constraint.
The Mullaperiyar dam is located in Kerala`s Idukki district but managed by Tamil Nadu on a 999-year lease period.