SAFE TAKE: CM Oommen Chandy said the Bill was not meant to harm the interests of Tamil Nadu.
Updated Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at 15:00
Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Assembly has passed a Bill that completely overturns the Supreme Court’s recent ruling over raising the storage level of the 100-year-old Mullaperiyar dam.
The Water Conservation and Water Resources Amendment Bill 2006 gives more powers to the Dam Safety Authourity in Kerala to ensure the safety of dams in the state.
The bill is likely to safeguard the state’s position of retaining water level of the dam at 136 ft. The Assembly was summoned for a special two-day session and the bill was introduced on the very first day of the session.
In a brief introductory statement, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the Bill was not meant to harm the interests of Tamil Nadu, but to ensure safety of the people in five districts of the state as the 113-year-old dam was not strong enough to hold more water than the present limit.
Kerala had cordial relationship with Tamil Nadu and the state wanted it to continue. But the Government could not just ignore the safety of the people in the downstream districts, he said.
Chandy said a political consensus had been evolved on the matter as it was found that the state’s interest could be protected only through a legislation. That was why the parties
agreed to the extraordinary step of convening the House after the Assembly polls were declared.
The Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (amendment) Bill seeks to give wider powers to the State Dam Safety Authority on matters like the storage level of dams in the state. The Bill has provisions for inclusion of 10 old dams including the Mullaperiyar on Kerala-Tamil Nadu border in a special schedule.
There has been discontent between the neighbouring states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the Mullaperiyar dam.
The supreme court had ordered that the storage level of the dam be raised from the current 136 feet to 152 feet.
Kerala feels if the storage level is increased, there would be a burden on Kerala’s water resources. The dam is situated in Kerala, but the lion’s share of the water is taken to Tamil Nadu to irrigate farmlands.