Special Kerala Assembly session on dam row?
New Delhi: Amid the continuing row over Mullaperiyar dam, Kerala is likely to call a special Assembly session on the issue.
Reports said the Congress-led UDF government is expected to call the session today amid demands from all quarters in the state, to pass a resolution seeking the construction of a new dam to replace the 116-year old structure which, many claim, has weakened in the wake of several mild tremors in the Idukki district where the dam is located.
The Kerala Cabinet is also due to meet today, to decide the future strategy on the issue.
Also today, a Congress delegation led by KPCC chief is visiting the dam site to inspect the structure.
On Tuesday, MPs and ministers from Kerala as well as Tamil Nadu had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to brief on the issue.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday evening, Kerala Water Resources Minister PJ Joseph talked about the imminent threat to the Mullaperiyar dam and said its collapse will put upto seven million lives in danger.
Evoking humanity to resolve the Mullaperiyar dam row at the earliest, Joseph said “it was not a question of lives of Keralities or Malayalees, but of Indians... it’s a question of humanity”.
According to Joseph, in case Mullaperiyar dam collapses five more dams downstream would also collapse, thereby threatening seven million lives in state’s Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta districts.
He said that the water flowing to Tamil Nadu would also stop as a result, adding five districts which depend on dam’s water for irrigation and electricity generation would turn into “desert”.
The row over Mullaperiyar dam started after Tamil Nadu sought an increase in the water-level in the reservoir to 142 feet. Kerala has been insisting that it be reduced from the current 136 feet to 120 feet.
The dam is operated by the Tamil Nadu government by way of a lease agreement.
Joseph said 24 hours of rain caused by a depression would take the water level in the dam to 163 feet putting the dam’s safety at risk.
“The Supreme Court cannot prevent earthquake. Immediate intervention is required,” Joseph said.
Another minister said that they assured the PM that Tamil Nadu would continue to get the same amount of water if a new dam is built.
Kerala has long stated that it is willing to construct a new dam for supplying water to Tamil Nadu, which is opposed to the move concerned over losing control over its functionality.
The Mullaperiyar dam is important for Tamil Nadu as it meets the irrigation needs of farmers in southern districts.
Prime Minister Singh had yesterday indicated that a meeting of Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala would be convened soon to discuss the contentious issue at length.