CHENNAI/KOTTAYAM: The Tamil Nadu government on Friday strongly condemned neighbouring Kerala's announcement to construct a new reservoir in the place of the existing Mullaperiyar dam and said the move was "arbitrary and amounted to contempt of Supreme Court order".
Responding to Tamil Nadu's charge, the Government of Kerala sought to allay concerns of the neighbouring state over the issue by clarifying that the proposal to build a new dam in the place of the over a century-old dam was put forth for ensuring the safety of the people living downstream.
Kerala Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine also made it clear that his state was committed to provide water to Tamil Nadu.
The state will hold talks with Tamil Nadu on the issue of constructing a new dam across Mullaperiyar, Augustine told reporters in Kottayam. Mullaperiyar is pronounced as Mullaiperiyar in Tamil Nadu.
Earlier, lashing out at Kerala for the announcement in the state Assembly, Tamil Nadu Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan said his state would oppose the move to construct a new dam in all aspects.
"Kerala government's announcement to build a new dam in the place of the existing one is arbitrary and unacceptable," he said.
The Tamil Nadu government will oppose this in all aspects and the state's rights (over Mullaperiyar) will not be given up for any reason, Duraimurugan said.
In a statement, the minister said the announcement in the Kerala Assembly by the Governor today on a proposal to build a new dam, is contrary to the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on May 7, 2014 and "contempt of the order of the apex court." The Supreme Court's order clearly stated that the Mullaperiyar dam is stable in all respects and that there is no need for a new dam.
It has also made it clear that the Kerala government cannot impose the new dam project on the Tamil Nadu government, Duraimurugan said, citing the 2014 order.
The judgment, regarding water level in Mullaperiyar reservoir, had restrained Kerala by a decree of permanent injunction from applying and enforcing the impugned legislation or in any manner interfering with or obstructing Tamil Nadu from increasing the water level to 142 feet and from carrying out repair works.
Meanwhile, AIADMK coordinator and former chief minister O Panneerselvam condemned Kerala for the announcement and claimed the neighbouring state was emboldened due to the "DMK government's soft approach." He urged Chief Minister M K Stalin to take all legal and political steps to oppose Kerala and to ensure Tamil Nadu's rights on Mullaperiyar prevailed.