Coming down heavily on the Kerala government’s action of preventing Tamil Nadu officials from closing drilled holes on the Mullaperiyar dam [located in the territory of Kerala], Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday sounded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the Tamil Nadu government might have to deploy its police to protect the Mullaperiyar dam in the area leased out to Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, complaining about Kerala’s “reprehensible” attitude over the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.
Ms Jayalalithaa, in her letter, has alleged that the Kerala Police stationed at the dam was preventing engineers from her state from carrying out essential maintenance work.
The allegations come after the Supreme Court’s Empowered Committee, earlier this month, in a major vindication of sorts for Tamil Nadu, held that the disputed dam was structurally safe in variance with Kerala’s contention that the structure was vulnerable and hence, proposed for the construction of a new dam.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said that vertical holes were drilled as part of the core stability test ordered by the Empowered Committee to study the safety aspects of the century-old dam. She has demanded that the drilled holes in the dam must be covered before the onset of the monsoon to prevent any damage to the structure. Stating that her request for the deployment of personnel from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the contentious site had not been acted upon, Ms Jayalalithaa said that the Tamil Nadu Police would have to move in to protect the area and ensure that the holes were covered if the Centre didn’t act.
Located in Kerala on the Periyar river, but contractually bound by an old lease signed before independence to water the fields across the border in Tamil Nadu, the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam has been a major bone of contention between the two neighbours since long.
The Supreme Court had been hearing the claim staked by both states since 2006. Tamil Nadu said it should be allowed to raise the amount of water stored in the dam. Kerala objected, saying the dam would not be able to withstand the additional pressure. It also offered to pay for the construction of a new dam that would be located further downstream. Tamil Nadu said it was worried that if a new dam was built, Kerala would reduce its share of water.
The empowered committee of five members including experts inspected the site and submitted its report to the judges on 25 April. It disagreed with Kerala about the vulnerability of the dam to natural disasters, or about cracks that made it structurally unsafe. The experts said Kerala should reconsider its inclination and rationale for building a new dam on the same river.
The committee, headed by Chief Justice of India AS Anand, also recommended that the water level at the dam, located in Kerala’s Idduki district and maintained by the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department, could be raised to 142 feet from the existing 136 feet. In the report, the committee, which made numerous visits to the site and conducted a slew of tests and surveys, concluded that the structure was safe on each of the “hydrologic, structural and seismic considerations”.