Will lead all party delegation to PM on Mullaperiyar: Chandy

December 7th, 2011 - 7:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 7 (IANS) Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Wednesday announced that he would be leading an all-party delegation from the state to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to pitch for the state’s demand for a new dam to replace the leaking Mullaperiyar Dam.

“I will be leading the delegation which would include Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan and other top party leaders. We are waiting for the appointment from the PM,” Chandy told reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting here.

Chandy met Manmohan Singh last week and sought his help to find a solution to replace the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar earthen dam located in Idukki district, as it is already leaking and poses danger to the people.

“At the moment we are told that an official-level meeting of officials of the two states would take place either on (Dec) 15 or 16. We have just one demand, which is water for Tamil Nadu and safety for Kerala. We are prepared to enter into any agreement with anyone to commit that we will share the water with Tamil Nadu,” said Chandy.

He also said that Advocate General K.P. Dandapani appeared before the cabinet and clarified his position.

“He denied of ever stating in the (Kerala) high court as reported in the media that there was no relation between water level and the safety of the dam. He pointed out that he never ever said such a thing. We decided that issue is a closed chapter and we have formed a four-member ministerial committee and on the 15th of this month, when the case comes up for hearing in the Kerala High Court, a fresh affidavit would be filed,” said Chandy.

He also appealed to all people in the state to see that they maintain absolute calm and patience and not allow emotions to run wild.

Meanwhile, Achuthanandan ended his day-long fast which he held at two locations in Idukki district.

On Thursday, the opposition is forming a human chain from the dam site to the Arabian Sea at Kochi to demand that the only alternative is a new dam.

State Congress president Ramesh Chennithala will observe a day’s fast on the same issue here at the Martyrs Column Thursday.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. While it is located in Kerala, its waters serve Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu wants the dam’s storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from 136 feet (41.5 metres) to 142 feet (43 metres) as the state’s irrigation needs have shot up.

On the other hand, Kerala is worried that a strong earthquake might damage the dam and cause widespread destruction. It is seeking a new dam and has offered to fund and build it, but Tamil Nadu does not agree.

Experts say if a quake strikes the dam and it is damaged, people and property in districts of Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and parts of Thrissur would be washed away.

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