Assuring that the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam was safe, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday appealed to the people of Kerala not to succumb "to the mechanisations of ill-wishers and unscrupulous mischief mongers".
She also urged the political class of Tamil Nadu to desist from making inflammatory speeches that could affect cordial relations between the two states.
"I make a fervent appeal to the people of Kerala not to succumb to the mechanisations of ill-wishers and unscrupulous mischief mongers. Please do not indulge in acts of senseless violence and vandalism over an imaginary non-issue," she said in a statement here.
Jaya's appeal came on a day when violence and vandalism was reported on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border with vehicles from this state being allegedly vandalised and even pilgrims bound for Sabarimala from Tamil Nadu being attacked allegedly by some who Jayalalithaa called "their brothers in Kerala".
Jayalalithaa, who said that there was "no justification whatsoever to believe that the dam was unsafe or likely to collapse," called upon the "highly educated and intelligent people of God's Own Country" not to fall prey to the "mechanisations of narrow vested interests of unscrupulous anti-social elements and allow their rational minds to be manipulated to indulge in quixotic acts of wanton mob violence".
"To me, these violence developments are alarming and based on imaginary, unfounded fears which have been fuelled by irresponsible positioning by vested political interests," she said.
"There is no justification whatsoever that the Periyar dam is unsafe or likely to collapse, bringing a deluge upon Idukki and surrounding districts. The dam is well maintained and has been periodically reinforced. Its safety is being constantly monitored, and highly qualified and accomplished technical experts, including those nominated by the Supreme Court, have repeatedly reiterated that it is absolutely safe," she said.
Holding that the 1,900 years old Grand Anaicut, built in 2nd century over river Kaveri in Tamil Nadu was built with the same surkhi mortar as the Mullaperiyar dam, she said that the second century dam was "absolutely safe" and therefore, there was no necessity to dismiss the Mullaperiyar dam as a primitive construction or fear that it would self-destruct due to old age.
"It was based on the confidence in its longevity that the initial water-sharing agreement entered into between the British Government of the State of Madras and the State of Travancore was for a period of 999 years," she said.
Holding that there had been widespread panic due to "a rumour" that the dam stood on an earthquake prone zone, Jayalalithaa said that a study of the seismic map of India "clearly showed" that whole of Kerala and most parts of India came under seismic zone III, which stood for 'moderately active'.
"Tremors, if at all, in Zone Three will rarely cross 3 points on the Richter scale. Tremors of 2 to 2.9 intensity on the Richter scale are "generally not felt, but recorded". Such tremors are taking place every minute all over the world and are mere statistics for the Meteorology Department.
"Tremors of 3 to 3.9 intensity on the Richter scale are often felt, but rarely cause damage. Such tremors are also widespread and no cause for concern. When this is so, there is absolutely no basis for fear that an earthquake will cause the collapse of the existing Mullai Periyar Dam," Jayalalithaa said.
The Tamil Nadu chief minister said that despite these facts being known to all concerned in Kerala, they had preferred to allow a "fear psychosis bordering on mass hysteria" to build up all over the state over the alleged lack of its safety.
Jayalalithaa said that there were a large number of Tamils in Kerala and a larger number of Malayalis in Tamil Nadu and they had lived together in admirable display of brotherhood and coopoeration.
"The govt of Tamil Nadu and the people of the state would be the last on earth who would want devastation to visit their brothers and sisters in Kerala", she said in response to the claim by the Kerala government that the dam was unsafe and in the event of a collapse triggered by tremors lots of people would lose their lives.
She said Tamil Nadu would not claim that the dam was safe "unless we were absolutely sure of our facts".
"I also call upon the media to exercise restraint and report the issue responsibly and objectivbely." She said. Appealing to the people of Kerala not to succumb to the "machinations of ill-wishers," she asked them not to destroy the mutual trust, esteem and goodwill that exists betwen the people of the two states.
"Do not let whipped up passions cloud your reason and better judgement, This is my request to a people whom I have always held in the highest esteem for their intelligence, education, rationality and hardwork. I also call upon the political class of Tami Nadu to desist from making inflammatory speeches on the issue, which would vitiate the cordial relations that exist between the people of the two states", she said.