The Kerala versus Tamil Nadu tug-of-war over the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam reached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's doorstep on Tuesday, with both states seeking his intervention.
Political leaders from both states met the PM, who said he would talk to Union water resources minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on the issue.
Union civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi said, "The prime minister assured us he will look into the issue urgently."Leaders from Kerala said Bansal would be directed to convene a meeting of the chief ministers of both the states.
Simultaneously, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa raised the pitch with a second letter to the PM within seven days, urging him to advise Kerala not to escalate tension when the matter is before the Supreme Court.
According to Kerala, the dam in its Idukki district - which meets the irrigation needs of southern Tamil Nadu - is fragile and poses grave danger. State water resources minister PJ Joseph said, "Seven million people can get washed away if the dam collapses. Twenty-six tremors have been recorded at the site of the dam in the last 11 months."
Kerala wants to construct a new dam at the site to replace the old structure. It also wants the existing dam's storage height to be reduced from the current 136 feet to 120 feet.
Tamil Nadu, which opposes a new dam, wants the storage height to be raised to 142 feet. According to the state, the lowering of the storage capacity of the dam earlier, at the behest of Kerala, had resulted in great losses.
A memorandum from DMK MPs to the PM said, "Kerala had been consistently making false propaganda about the safety of the dam through the media and other means."