Kerala, TN bring Mullaperiyar dam row to Delhi | india | Hindustan Times
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Kerala, TN bring Mullaperiyar dam row to Delhi

india Updated: Dec 01, 2011 13:28 IST

IANS
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Mahila-Congress-activists-burn-the-effigy-of-Tamil-Nadu-chief-minister-J-Jayalalithaa-in-Thiruvanthapuram-protesting-against-the-Tamil-Nadu-stand-against-construction-of-a-new-dam-at-Mullaperiyar

As chief minister Oommen Chandy arrives in Delhi on Thursday to persuade Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to let Kerala build a new dam near the leaking Mullaperiyar dam, the debate has now shifted to the Indian capital.

Neighbouring Tamil Nadu is firmly opposed to a new dam.

Chandy said that the country in the past has seen many disputes over water and these mostly involved one state refusing to give water to another or one state wanting more water and another not agreeing.

"In the present dispute over Mullaperiyar dam, the issue of water sharing is not an issue with Tamil Nadu. All that we are demanding is a brand new dam downstream of the present dam at our own expense. The present agreement of water sharing will remain, without any change.

"Our only concern is the safety of more than three million people living in five districts and we have been told by experts that the present dam is unsafe," said Chandy.

Chandy also pointed out that an all-party meeting will be held here Dec 6 and a special day-long session of the Kerala assembly would be held Dec 9.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built in Idukki district under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. While the dam is located in Kerala, its waters serve Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu wants the dam's storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from 136 feet (41.5 metre) to 142 feet (43 metre) as the state's irrigation needs have shot up.

Kerala is worried that a strong earthquake might damage the dam and cause widespread destruction and flooding. It is seeking a new dam and has offered to fund and build it. But Tamil Nadu does not agree.

Experts have pointed out that if a quake strikes the dam and it is damaged, people and property in districts of Idukki, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Ernakulam and parts of Thrissur would be washed away.

Since June this year, the Idukki district has witnessed close to two dozen tremors and with an aggressive media highlighting the fears of the common man that the dam might give way.

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Even though locals have been sitting in dharna in Idukki for the past five years demanding a new dam, things heated up when tremors became a regular phenomenon.

There are three legislators - ES Bijimol, Roshy Augustine and S Rajendran - from Idukki district who have begun a hunger strike with the aim of getting those in Delhi to listen to their demand that a leaking dam is giving sleepless nights to those in and around Idukki in particular and others living in the nearby four districts in general.

Assembly speaker G Karthikeyan on Thursday morning visited the fasting legislators.

"No one should think of making political capital out of this fast and the message that should go out is that all are united in the demand for a dam," said Karthikeyan.