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Kerala CM Chandy to meet PM to discuss Mullaperiyar issue

Source: PTI
November 30, 2011 18:30 IST
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With the standoff between Kerala and Tamil Nadu on the Mullaperiyar dam issue escalating, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday.

Claiming that the prime minister was "already convinced" of the state's demand for a new dam in place of the 116-year-old structure, Chandy said after a Cabinet meeting that he would once again take up the matter with him.

Chandy said he would write to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa explaining Kerala's position on the Mullaperiyar issue. He sought to know why Jayalalithaa, who was opposing the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project in Tamil Nadu on the safety issue, was reluctant to adopt the same yardstick in the Mullaperiyar issue where the safety of three million people was involved.

Expressing his readiness to meet his Tamil Nadu counterpart to discuss the issue, he said, "I am ready to take the initiative to meet Jayalalithaa, if that will find a solution". 

Kerala Cabinet, which discussed the Mullaperiyar issue, resolved to stick to the state's demand for building a new dam and reduce the water level at the reservoir to 120 feet from the present level.

Rejecting Jayalalithaa's charge that political parties in Kerala were whipping up "fear psychosis" on the safety of the dam, he said, "Experts have given a serious warning on the safety of the dam.

"Kerala cannot even wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on the matter in view of the tremors and serious situation prevailing" in Idukki, where the dam is situated, Chandy said.

About Tamil Nadu's fear that they would lose control over the dam once a new one was constructed, he said, "Those are details which could be worked out through discussion".

Stating that both the ruling Congress-led UDF and CPI-M headed LDF were together on the issue, Chandy said a decision to convene a special assembly session exclusively to debate on Mullaperiyar issue would be taken after consulting with Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan.

Chandy also said in the present circumstances, building a new dam was the only solution and "Kerala is ready to give assurance in any forum that it will provide the same quantity of water now given to Tamil Nadu after the new dam is built".

Kerala's stand of "water to Tamil Nadu and safety of Kerala" had received wide support from the Centre, he claimed.

Meanwhile, the Kerala high court on Wednesday directed the state government to file a written statement within '48 hours' on the disaster management steps being taken anticipating threat to the dam.

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