TN CM plea for consensus on Mullaperiyar
Chennai, Oct 23: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today appealed to all political parties to discuss and arrive at a consensus on Kerala Government's invitation for talks on the contentious Mullaperiyar Dam issue.
Chairing an all-party meeting convened by the state government on the issue, Mr Karunanidhi urged the leaders of the political parties to discuss and arrive at a consensus on whether to find a negotiated settlement to the issue or approach the Centre to prevail upon the Kerala Government to implement the Supreme Court order.
The meeting was convened after Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, as suggested by the Supreme Court, invited Tamil Nadu Government for talks on the issue.
The Supreme Court had initially passed an order on February 27 that the water level in the dam be raised to 142 ft.
Refusing to implement the order, the Kerala Government amended the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, 2003.
The amendment sought to vest the Dam Safety Authority with the powers to take decisions on matters with regard to the safety of 22 major and minor dams in the state.
The amendment specifically fixes the maximum permissible water levels for 22 major and minor reservoirs, including Mullaperiyar.
The permissible limit for Mullaperiyar is 136 feet.
When the Tamil Nadu Government moved the Apex Court seeking a direction to Kerala to implement its orders in toto, the Supreme Court suggested the two governments resolve the issue through dialogue.
Today's all party meeting was attended among others by Leaders O Panneerselvam (AIADMK), M Krishnasamy (Congress), G K Mani (Pattali Makkal Katchi), Gingee Ramachandran (MDMK), N Varadarajan (CPI-M) and C Magendiran (CPI).
Recalling the historical background of the dam, Mr Karunanidhi said the project was executed as per the lease deed executed between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the then Madras Presidency on October 29, 1886. Then, in the year 1970, the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments executed two supplemental agreements. The full water level in the reservoir was 152 ft, but after Kerala raised some apprehensions in 1979 about the safety of the dam, the water level was temporarily brought down to 136 ft, he said.
Later, the Tamil Nadu government, after carrying out all necessary strengthening work, as suggested by the Central Water Commission, wanted to raise the water level to atleast 145 ft, but Kerala insisted that the watar level be kept at 136 ft.
The two governments held several rounds of talks, but failed to arrive at a decision. The two governments had even exchanged technical reports, but the Kerala based Mullaiperiyar environmental ptotection committee and other individulas had moved the Supreme court against raising the water level beyond 136 ft, he said.
Meanwhile, as suggested by the Supreme court, the Central Water Resources Ministry constituted an expert committee, which, in its report in March 2001, had suggested that the water level be raised to 142 ft and after strengthening of Baby dam, the level be raised to 152 ft.
In this backdrop the Supreme court, on February 27 had allowed raising of water level to 142 ft. The apex court, had also permitted the Tamil Nadu government to carry out further strengthening measures while restraining the Kerala government from causing any obstruction, Mr Karunanidhi pointed out.
Disagreeing with the order, the Kerala government had amended the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act and when the Tamil Nadu government approached the Supreme Court, it had suggested that the two governments, either on their own or with the help of the Centre find a negotiated settlement and posted the case to November for further hearing.
Meanwhile, the Kerala government in its letter on October three, invited the Tamil Nadu government for talks, Mr Karunanidhi said.
He said Tamil Nadu always adopted a cordial relation with its neighbouring states like Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, but on the Mullaiperiyar dam issue, the state was suffering for the last 27 years.