The Kerala assembly on Friday passed unanimously a resolution demanding that the central government take the lead in resolving the Mullaperiyar dam issue, allowing the state government to construct a new dam and decommissioning the existing one.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the present Mullaperiyar dam built under an agreement signed in 1886 between the then maharaja of Travancore and the British administration. The agreement granted the then Madras Presidency the right to construct and maintain the dam and divert the water to irrigate arid lands in the Madurai region.
State Water Resources Minister N K Premachandran, who initiated a discussion on Mullaperiyar, said there is no need for Tamil Nadu to be worried because the new dam would be built downstream of the Periyar river.
"We are not infringing into the rights of Tamil Nadu and it is unfortunate that they have taken a unilateral stand against this. We assure them that water would certainly be given to them," he said.
While the dam is located in Idukki district of Kerala, it serves Tamil Nadu. In recent years, Tamil Nadu has demanded that the storage level of the dam be raised from 41.5 m to 43 m to meet the state's increasing demand of water for irrigation.
"Talks between the chief ministers of the two states have failed to find a solution and right now a case is on in the Supreme Court. The centre should help us in this to resolve the difference of opinion," said Premachandran.
After 18 legislators from both sides spoke on the issue, the house unanimously passed a resolution contending that there was no option but to build a new dam due to concerns over safety of the existing structure and of the millions of residents in the three nearby districts of Kerala.