Stepping in to defuse the crisis, the Centre on Monday invited senior officials from Tamil Nadu and Kerala for discussions on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue even as the Supreme Court-appointed empowered panel decided to send a two-member team to the site for an on-the-spot assessment.
The water resources ministry sent out letters to secretaries of the water resources departments in both states inviting them for a meeting on the issue either on December 15 or 16 in New Delhi, sources said.
This will be the first official meeting between the two sides on the issue in six years.
They said Pradeep Kumar, commissioner (projects) in the ministry, wrote the letters to the state secretaries for the meeting which will be chaired by water resources secretary DV Singh.
“The secretaries have been asked to choose between December 15 and 16 for the meeting which will be part of the consultations. This could serve as a ground for future meetings between ministers or chief ministers of both states,” the sources said.
The Centre’s decision came on a day when the Supreme Court-appointed panel, headed by former chief justice of India AS Anand, decided to send a two-member technical team to the site of the Mullaperiyar Dam in Idukki district in Kerala to verify claims made by both states.
“Two members (of the committee) will be visiting the Mullaperiyar dam site later this month. The committee will meet again on January 2 and 3 to discuss their findings,” said a senior official attached to the committee. The dates of the visit, which are agreeable to the two states, will be decided later this week. The committee is expected to submit its report on the controversial issue in February.
The Centre’s decision to invite officials also comes in the wake of several political parties from both states meeting the Prime Minister and seeking his intervention on the issue.