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Mullaperiyar: A Plea for Sanity

The safety of the Mullaperiyar dam is not a matter for judicial determination. This dispute is eminently a case for an agreed settlement by amicable talks between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Talks at the intergovernmental level must be supplemented by civil society moves to bring the people concerned in the two states together.

The Mullaperiyar issue has flared up again, presumably because the empowered committee is likely to submit its report shortly, and the Supreme Court may make a pronouncement. Feelings are running high in both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Pleas for sanity may well fall on deaf ears, but must nevertheless be made.

An account of the dispute and its history was published in this journal earlier (“Towards Good Sense on Mullaperiyar”, 6 January 2007). Without going over the entire ground again, the issue can be succinctly stated as follows. Tamil Nadu wants the flows (from the dam to the beneficiary area in the Vaigai basin) to be maintained and increased, and for this purpose it wants the water level in the Mullaperiyar reservoir to be raised to the design level of 142 ft. Kerala is worried about the safety of the old dam, in particular from the point of view of the people living downstream of the dam, and wants the water level not to be raised above 136 ft, and if possible to be reduced to a lower level.

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