New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday stepped in to bring the warring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala together to defuse the Mullaperiyar dam crisis and their officials are expected to meet to thrash out a solution. READ MORE:Kerala HC informed about Dam safety JPN/Agencies
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy met the Prime Minister seeking his intervention for an early solution, a day after the confrontation between the two neighbouring states escalated. AIADMK MPs also met Singh and sought his intervention.
"Central Government has taken a concrete approach. The Prime Minister has stepped in. Centre has accepted Kerala's demand that it should intervene to find an early solution to the Mullaperiyar Dam issue," Chandy, who also met Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, told reporters in New Delhi.
"The Prime Minister has intervened. Discussion between two states on the issue will take place at the Central level," he said indicating that an official level discussion will take place initially on the issue.
Chandy, however, did not reveal whether there is a possibility of a Chief Ministerial-level discussion on the vexed issue. Sources in Kerala government said the official level discussion is expected to pave for chief ministerial level talks to solve the crisis.
AIADMK MPs submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister alleging that Ministers and officials of Kerala were "spreading panic and rumours" among the people through media on the issue, a day after Singh wrote to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Mullaperiyar Dam that nothing should be done or said that will create "alarm" among the people.
"These actions of the Government of Kerala go against the spirit of the Constitution of India and they are not in the interests of both states," the MPs said in a memorandum.
In a bid to defuse tension and anxiety of people over Mullaperiyar dam, Kerala government said an action plan for disaster management had been put in place to contain the flow of water in the event of a dam burst.
In Thiruvannathapuram, Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan reiterated Kerala's stand for a new dam and wanted Tamil Nadu to lower the water level at the dam in Kerala's Idukki district to 120 feet as an immediate measure. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, wants the storage level of the dam to be raised to 142 feet.
The CPI demanded that the Prime Minister call a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to find a political solution to the Mullaperiyar problem, which was creating "tension" between the two states.
Kerala Government informed the state High Court in Kochi that in the light of concerns over the safety of the 116-year-old Mullaiperiyar dam, various measures such as installation of digital sensors, early warning systems and digital seismographs would be undertaken by it.
In an affidavit, the government said it had identified 450 families (living near the dam) which are to be evacuated on a war-footing in the event of an emergency.
The statement was filed before a division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice P R Ramachandra Menon on a batch of petitions expressing apprehensions over the safety of the dam.
The petitions were filed in the backdrop of the dam issue hotting up with Kerala mounting pressure for building a new reservoir across Mullaperiyar apprehending threat to the safety of the dam. Tamil Nadu is opposing the move saying it would deprive its share of water for irrigation.
Terming as "unfortunate" the tone and tenor of Jayalalithaa's response to his letter, Chandy said Kerala was expecting a favourable response from the neighbouring state.
"We want an early solution to the problem. The people are very anxiously waiting for an early solution. Anxiety of people is in high after the continuous tremors in the area where the dam is located," he said.
Maintaining that Kerala will continue supply of water from Mullaperiyar to Tamil Nadu, Chandy said, "We are ready to give the same quantity of water. We are ready to give any kind of assurance--agreement between the states, tripartite agreement in the presence of Central government and we are ready to give assurance in the Court."
Chandy said he asked Prime Minister to ask Tamil Nadu Government to take "all possible action" to ensure that not more than 120 ft of water is kept in this dam.
"This will ensure that the intensity of damage and loss is minimized even if any unfortunate tragedy occurs," he said.
Maintaining that construction of a new dam is the only solution, the Chief Minister said he also asked Prime Minister to intervene for having an agreement in principle on the issue so that the details of such construction can be worked out.
He also requested Bansal to ensure that the Central government examines the safety aspect of all the dams in the country which are over a 100-year old.
As per National Register of Large Dams (2009), there are 126 dams in India which are over a century old.
Chandy's meeting with Singh came a day after the Prime Minister told Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa that nothing should be said or done to create "undue alarm". Tamil Nadu has accused Kerala of whipping up a 'fear psychosis' on the issue.
The Chief Minister also met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi earlier in the day to brief her about Kerala's position on the dam issue.
Chandy, in a letter to Jayalalithaa after the latest row erupted, has sought a reduction in the water level in the reservoir to 120 feet as an immediate step to remove fears among people living close to the dam.
Singh had on Thursday directed Bansal to arrange an early meeting between officials of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to "sort out outstanding issues and allay genuine concerns".
While Kerala has expressed apprehension that rising water level in the dam posed a major risk to it, Tamil Nadu has rejected any such fears.
CPI for PM meeting with Kerala, TN
The CPI demanded that the Prime Minister call a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to find a political solution to the Mullaperiyar Dam issue, which was creating "tension" between the two states.
"This issue need not become a controversy with agitations and counter agitations," the CPI Central Secretariat said, appealing to the people of the two neighbouring states to "restrain themselves and create an atmosphere for settlement through discussions".
While urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convene a meeting of the two Chief Ministers and "take political decision to settle the issue", the party said the Kerala government should guarantee the supply of water for irrigation to Tamil Nadu. "The century old arrangement should continue."
The party said the apprehensions of the people of Kerala about the safety of the 116-year-old dam should be taken into active consideration. It also appealed to the Supreme Court to expedite its enquiry and decide a pending case as early as possible.
BJP seeks PM intervention
BJP wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to urgently intervene in the Mullaperiyar dam issue by calling a meeting of Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in his presence to resolve the long-pending dispute.
"We demand that the Prime Minister immediately attend to the issue by arranging talks between the two Chief Ministers," BJP national spokesperson Nirmala Sitaraman told a meet-the-press programme in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday.
She said lack of initiative on the part of the Centre on a delicate issue like this was very much reflective of the complete governance paralysis under UPA government as was evident in most other vital issues like price rise and blackmoney.
In sharp contrast, during the NDA rule, the then Prime Minister A B Vajapayee had shown that the central initiative was crucial when inter-state issues cropped up.
Whenever issues of water or language came up, Vajpayee had come out with initiatives of his own and called Chief Ministers concerned to talk and come to amicable solutions.
When two Kerala ministers visited Delhi some time back in connection with the Mullaperiyar dam issue, Prime Minister should have met them instead of asking Water Resources Minister P K Bansal to deal with them, she said.
Now that lot time had already lost, the Prime Minister should intervene without any further delay, she said.
Stating that her party's view was that "talks are the best way" to resolve the dispute, the BJP leader said as far as Kerala was concerned, safety of the people was a matter of worry while Tamil Nadu always had anxiety about water and water management.
New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday stepped in to bring the warring states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala together to defuse the Mullaperiyar dam crisis and their officials are expected to meet to thrash out a solution.
READ MORE:Kerala HC informed about Dam safety