Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin will meet his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan in Chennai in December to resolve the decades’ long issue of the Mullaperiyar dam.
Sources in the Tamil Nadu Water Resources Department told IANS that the meeting would discuss the strength of the dam and the pitfalls regarding it.
Kerala Minister for Water Resources Roshy Augustine and his Tamil Nadu counterpart and senior DMK leader S. Duraimurugan will also be part of the meeting, sources said.
Kerala has been arguing that the Mullaperiyar dam be dismantled and a new dam constructed, but Tamil Nadu opposes it as the water from the dam is a lifeline for farmers in several parts of Tamil Nadu.
It is to be noted that Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, while speaking to the media persons at Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, said that the Mullaperiyar dam is old and several people living in the area have expressed their anxiety to him and that a new dam was the need of the hour.
He said that he had communicated the anxiety of the people to the Kerala government and that steps should be taken to resolve the issue amicably.
Mullaperiyar is a masonry gravity dam across the Periyar river and was constructed between 1887 and 1895 by John Pennycuick, a British Engineer. There was agreement to share the water with Tamil Nadu. Even though the dam is geographically located in Kerala, it is maintained and managed by Tamil Nadu.
A report by the United Nations University, the academic and research arm of the United Nations has said that the Mullaperiyar dam, which is situated in a seismically active area, faces the risk of failure.
The report titled, “Ageing water storage infrastructure: An emerging global risk”, released by the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment, and Health has said that the ageing of dams is a threat to human safety and environment. It specifically mentioned and stated that the Mullaperiyar dam constructed in 1895 is situated in a landslide-prone area and that if there is dam failure, the lives of 3.5 million people would be affected.
The report also said that in 2011, Idukki district, where the Mullaperiyar dam is situated, experienced a series of tremors, and after the earthquake measured 3.5 on the Ritcher scale, the water level in the dam rose more than the general.
Several celebrities of Kerala, including film stars, Prithviraj, Unnimukundan, have supported the construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar and the upcoming meeting between the Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu is expected to resolve the issue.