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Kerala steps up pressure over Mullaperiyar dam

November 27, 2011 19:38 IST

Setting aside rivalries, ruling Congress-led United Democratic Front and opposition Left Democratic Front in Kerala stepped up the demand for a new dam at Mullaperiyar as water flow into the reservoir in Idukki almost touched the maximum permissible storage level of 136 feet on Sunday due to heavy rain in the area.

As increased inflow and recurrence of tremors heightened fears about the safety of the 116-year-old dam, the entire political spectrum and local resistance groups protested by blocking roads and called a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Idukki district on Monday.

They wanted Tamil Nadu to accept the proposal to build a new dam and the Centre to mediate for the resolution of the prolonged tiff. The district administration said there was no room for panic but opened three control rooms to monitor the situation and alerted the people living near the dam to remain vigilant.

Two shutters of the dam's spillways had been opened to allow outflow of excess water since intake by Tamil Nadu had reduced as reservoirs and canals in the adjoining areas in the state were in spate due to heavy rain, official sources said.

Kerala state Congress chief Ramesh Chennithala urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC president Sonia Gandhi to immediately intervene in the issue holding that lives of three million people were at stake.

Protesters under the banner of Mullaperiyar Samrakshna Samiti blocked the Kollam-Theni road and burnt Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's effigy, sources said.

Meanwhile, a team of scientists conducted inspections in the Mullaperiyar area to ascertain the impact of recent tremors on the safety of the dam

Demanding Centre's intervention, Kerala Congress (M), a constituent of ruling UDF, said party workers in Idukki, Kottayam, Pathnamthitta, Alapuzha and Ernakulam will be observing fast at the district headquarters on Monday.

erala Congress (M) Chairman and Revenue Minister K M Mani told reporters at Kochi that party MP Jose K Mani will stage a fast before Parliament on Monday while Idukki MLA Roshy Augustine will protest before the state assembly in Thiruvananthapuram.

Leader of the Opposition in Kerala Assembly V S Achutanandan had asked the Centre to take immediate steps favouring Kerala on Mullaperiyar dam dispute by taking into consideration "the safety of lakhs of people."

Kerala has been pressing for immediate central intervention to persuade Tamil Nadu to agree to the proposal for a new dam at Mullaperiyar holding that the present structure posed a threat to nearly 3 million people, mainly in Idukki, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts.

However, holding a contradictory view, Tamil Nadu has opposed construction of a new dam, asserting that the present reservoir "is as safe and good as new" and accused Kerala of whipping up fear psychosis.

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