Mullaperiyar row: Kerala assures protection



Madurai: Kerala would do all that was necessary to protect the Mullaperiyar dam, and also all protection to Tamil Nadu PWD staff working in the dam, tourists from Tamil Nadu and Ayyappa devotees visiting Kerala, the Kerala Chief Secretary on Tuesday submitted in the Madras High Court Bench here.

In his counter filed in connection with the writ petition filed by the Tamil Nadu PWD Senior Engineers' Association, Chief Secretary P Prabhakaran also denied that illegal structures were built up in the dam site with the support of the Kerala government.

He said that when the Tamil Nadu government had moved the Supreme Court seeking to replace the Kerala state police with Central forces at the dam site, the apex court recorded the submission of the Kerala state that all steps had been taken to ensure the safety of the Mullaiperiyar dam.

The Tamil Nadu PWD Senior Engineers' Association was not a registered one and had no locus standi to seek the relief, he submitted.

He said proper protection was being offered to the dam, tourists from tamilnadu, and devotees of lord Ayyappa by the Kerala police. They had not received "any complaint whatsoever" from any quarter in this regard, he said. The apprehension of the petitioner with regard to the safety of the dam, tourists from Tamil Nadu and devotees of lord Ayyappa were "baseless," he said.

The petitioner RVS Vijayakumar, secretary of the Tamil Nadu PWD Senior Engineers Association, submitted there was encroachment in the dam site that had been supported by the Kerala government. The engineers who were involved in the maintenance of the dam, as well as tourists and Ayyappa devotees were being attacked and facing threat, he said, seeking a direction to replace the Kerala police from the dam site and remove the alleged encroachments.

Justice Chitra Venkatraman and Justice Karuppiah said as the case relating to Mullaperiyar dam was pending in the Supreme Court, this court could not intervene and entertain the petition. As the petitioner's advocate sought time for the senior counsel to appear, the case was posted for hearing on Jan 31.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala are locked in a dispute over raising the storage capacity of the Mullaperiyar dam. While Kerala claims that the 116-year-old reservoir is unsafe and should be replaced by a new dam, Tamil Nadu maintains that the present structure is "as good as new" after measures taken to strengthen the dam.

PTI