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Mullaperiyar dam row: Kerala, Tamil Nadu MPs meet PM

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Kerala Congress MPs protest against the Mullaperiyar Dam at Parliament House in New Delhi on Tuesday. (pti)

New Delhi: The political battle over the Mullaperiyar dam hotted up Tuesday with MPs from Tamil Nadu and Kerala seeking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to resolve the complex issue.

Manmohan Singh is understood to have assured a delegation of Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu that a meeting of chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala would be arranged soon to discuss the contentious issue.

The prime minister also assured them that he would talk to Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal over the issue.

MPs from Tamil Nadu argued that Kerala should not be allowed to build a new dam near the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam in Idduki district, which is prone to earthquake tremors.

Union ministers from Kerala who called on the prime minister in parliament were Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi, Food and Public Distribution Minister K.V. Thomas, Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullapally Ramachandran, Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed and Minister of State for Power K.C. Venugopal.

After the meeting, Vayalar Ravi told reporters that the prime minister assured the delegation he would look into the matter to help sort things out between the two states at the earliest.

“The prime minister heard us out and assured us that he would look into the issue,” he said, adding that the central government is also working to settle the issue through a meeting between the chief ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, MPs from Kerala cutting across party lines held a demonstration outside Parliament House to press for their demand for building a new dam to replace the existing earthen structure.

As a counter move, four MPs from Tamil Nadu staged a protest close to the spot where the Kerala MPs were holding their demonstration, demanding that the Supreme Court directive on raising the storage level of the dam to 142 feet be implemented.

Mullaperiyar dam has been a bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and Kerala for years now.

Tamil Nadu plans to have the dam wall increased to 142 feet from the existing 136 feet, and Kerala wants it reduced to 120 feet, but has offered the construction of a new dam to meet the needs of its neighbouring state.

However, Tamil Nadu is opposing the move, worried that it may lose control over the dam’s functioning.

Concerns in Kerala stem from questions about the dam’s ability to withstand high magnitude earthquakes and the possible impact of such natural disasters on the lives of over three million people in the state’s Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta districts. (IANS)

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