Monday, January 02, 2012

Mullaperiyar Row

Mullaperiyar row: Expert panel submits report to Empowered Committee today

NDTV Correspondent, Updated: January 02, 2012 13:05 IST

New Delhi: As the controversy over the Mullaperiyar dam rages on, the two-member expert panel constituted by the Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee today submitted its report on the safety of the disputed structure. Kerala, however, claimed that the panel's report was biased and opposed its consideration by the five-member committee.

Kerala contended that a new dam should be built as the existing structure was vulnerable to earthquakes and consequently posed a major threat to the lives of people staying in the area. It also pressed its demand to reduce the water level in the dam to 120 feet from the existing 136 feet to ensure that safety was not compromised.

The two-member expert panel comprising C D Thatte and D K Mehta had visited the dam site last month after Kerala yet again expressed fears in the wake of recent tremors in the area.

Kerala, however, complained to the Empowered Committee headed by former Chief Justice of India Justice A S Anand that the expert panel was unfair and had openly supported Tamil Nadu during its inspection of the dam site. It claimed that the panel was acting against Kerala's interests.

Kerala government officials had stayed away from the December 23 visit alleging that the experts did not hear the state's views on the dam's safety aspects. According to official sources, the state government had received legal advice for lodging its displeasure at the way the two members had conducted their proceedings.

The dam is located in Kerala but Tamil Nadu controls it under a decades-old agreement and uses its waters to irrigate five of its southern districts. Tamil Nadu fears that Kerala's demand for a new structure is a ploy to wrest control over the dam. The state maintains that the structure is safe with reinforcements being carried out periodically and has accused its neighbour of fear-mongering.

MDMK leader Vaiko, who led protests against Kerala last month, today reiterated that Tamil Nadu had legal rights over the dam and accused Kerala of disregarding directions to raise the water level. Agriculture would suffer if the water level was decreased, as Kerala has been suggesting, he pointed out.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha and Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy had earlier approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene and settle the dispute.

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