Kochi/ New Delhi: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the state government to inform it about the safety measures taken anticipating threat to the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam.

A division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice P R Ramachandra Menon directed Advocate General K P Dhandapani to inform the court by Wednesday morning the immediate measures being taken by the government.

The bench held that prevention was better than cure.

The direction was issued on a petition by advocate Rajamannar seeking for a direction to Idukki District Collector to take immediate steps for draining water from the dam and three other nearby dams on a war footing.

The petitioner also sought the construction of internal chambers and compartments in the four dams for safety.

Meanwhile, former MLA K Krishnankutty also approached the High Court seeking a direction to Kerala Dam Safety Authority (KDSA) to immediately start exercising its powers and duties with respect to Mullaperiyar dam, conduct an inspect and issue direction to state government to ensure safety of the dam and to prevent any damage to it.

The petitioner also sought to declare the KDSA's "failure" to perform its statutory function was liable to be declared illegal. The petitioner is likely to come before court on Wednesday.

Increase in inflow into the reservoir touching slightly above the maximum permissible storage level of 136 feet has heightened fears about the safety of the dam among people in the area and adjoining districts.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu are locked in a dispute over the dam. While Kerala is arguing for construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar in place of the existing one, Tamil Nadu is against this, saying it would deprive water for irrigation to five districts of the state.

MPs from Kerala, TN meet PM

With the Mullaperiyar Dam issue assuming centrestage, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday indicated that a meeting of Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala would be convened soon to discuss the contentious issue at length.

Meeting a delegation of Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu, Singh assured them that he would talk to Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal with regard to the issue over which the two states have been at loggerheads for a long time.

"The Prime Minister heard us patiently. We submitted a memorandum to him in this regard. He listened to our views. He said he would talk to Water Resources Minister and ask him to work on a meeting of Chief Ministers of both states," Manick Tagore, Virduhunagar MP, said after the meeting.

The MPs told Singh that Kerala should not be allowed to construct a new dam near the 116-year-old existing structure. They also asked Singh to intervene personally in the issue, which is at the centrestage again in the wake of reports that the dam is weakening due to increase in incidents of tremor in Idduki district in Kerala.

Union Ministers from Kerala also met the Prime Minister seeking his intervention in ensuring the safety of the dam.

Union Ministers Vayalar Ravi, K V Thomas, K C Venugopal, Mullapally Ramachandran and E Ahamed met Singh with a demand to rein in Tamil Nadu's insistence on increasing the water level in the reservoir for enhancing water supply to the state.

"The Prime Minister heard us out and assured us that he would look into the issue," Ravi, the Civil Aviation Minister, said.

MPs from Kerala, cutting across party lines, continued their protest in Parliament premises to press for their demand for building a new dam to replace the existing structure.

Alongside the representatives from Kerala, four MPs from Tamil Nadu staged a sit-in protest demanding implementation of the Supreme Court directive on the matter by raising the storage level to 142 feet.

While Tamil Nadu wants to increase the water-level in the reservoir, Kerala has been insisting that it be reduced from the current 136 feet to 120 feet.

Kerala is willing to construct a new dam for supplying water to Tamil Nadu, which is opposing the move concerned over losing control over its functionality.

Kerala artists, filmmakers protest for Mullaperiyar

Artists and filmmakers from Kerala on Wednesday protested at the International Film Festival of India being held in Panaji demanding rebuilding of the Mullaperiyar dam.

The protesters wearing black badges demonstrated at IFFI venue this afternoon shouting slogans demanding rebuilding of the dam.

"We want that the dam should be rebuilt on priority," Ravindran, an actor from Kerala, told reporters at the protest site.

He said the demonstrations at IFFI were being held to grab international attention on the issue, which has been a major concern for Kerala.

"There are actors, filmmakers and film society members participating in the protests," he said.

Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy Chairman Soorya Krishnamoorthy, filmmakers like Rajesh Pillai, V K Prakash, Sangeeth Shivan, Odesa Satyan, Deedi Damodaran, Listin Stephan and Vineet were among those who participated in the protest.

Krishnamoorthy said that the protests were to express concern about the dam.

"We will continue our protests through films, theatre, dances and other mediums," he added.


JPN/Agencies