Theni (TN): The simmering tension over the Mullaperiyar dam issue showed no signs of abating as people from different villages in border areas of Tamil Nadu blocked vehicular traffic on Cumbum-Mettu road to Kerala for the third day on Monday.

However traffic was allowed on two other routes – via Kumili and Bodi Mettu, officials said.

Border areas on both sides of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been witnessing sporadic incidents of violence over the issue with protesters on either side targeting vehicles and people.

Police said talks had been held with the villagers, urging them to exercise restraint in their protests. Kerala Police had also been urged to keep a close watch on those who attacked vans and people from Tamil Nadu, they said.

Asserting its rights on the dam, the Jayalalithaa government had yesterday convened a special assembly session on December 15 to assert its right on the issue and announced Tamil Nadu would not give up its rights over Mullaperiyar due to 'imaginary threats' on its safety and security raised by Kerala.

This move came two days after a special session of Kerala assembly passed a unanimous resolution demanding construction of a new dam to replace the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam.

The row over the dam has escalated in recent weeks, with Kerala insisting on a new dam to replace the 116-year-old structure, citing safety concerns, leading to attacks on Tamils and Keralites in some parts of both states.

However Tamil Nadu has said the dam is as good as a new one and moved the Supreme Court on the issue. The dam is in Kerala, but controlled by Tamil Nadu on a 999 year lease.

Officials said District Collector K C Palnisamy and others visited the border area near Kumili and asked villagers not to get carried away by reports as it was an inter-state issue.

The officials urged drivers taking pilgrims to Sabarimala temple to proceed without stopping their vehicles anyhwere. Though vehicle movement was very thin, traffic flow was smooth, they said.

They said five companies of police personnel had been deployed at various check posts and a new check post erected for transporting food and vegetables, which are now being allowed through Bodinayakanur upto Kurangani.

The officials described as politically motivated, the attack on Finance Minister O Paneerselvam's car on Sunday by some persons when he went to the spot to pacify agitators.

Video footage of the incident had pinpointed those responsible and they would be nabbed soon, they said.

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy appealed to agitators not to "fall prey to the designs of vested interests" to exploit the situation to whip up narrow parochial sentiments.

Emphasising the importance of maintaining good relations with Tamil Nadu, he said certain vested interests were making conscious efforts to depict it as a major conflict between the neighbours.

"It is important for everybody to exercise restraint so that the atmosphere would not get vitiated. Certain vested interests are making conscious efforts to exploit the situation," Chandy said at Pathanamthitta.

He said Kerala had maintained "utmost restraint" despite provocations from "certain quarters".

Meanwhile, leaders of the opposition LDF met and formalised the decision to join the all-party team to New Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Sigh seeking urgent Central intervention to the vexed issue.

Elsewhere, tension in Kerala's border town Kumily over the Mullaperiyar dam issue eased today but the area was still under tight security as agitators massed on the Tamil Nadu side protesting against Kerala's demand for a new dam in place of the 116-year-old structure.

After remaining shut for the past two days, the town shops in the town opened but inter-state traffic continued to be blocked on both sides for the third consecutive day, police at Kumali said.

Prohibitory orders are in force in the area till on Tuesday.

Kerala police officials are in close touch with their Tamil Nadu counterparts to ensure the protesters would not cross over to Kerala and spark trouble.