Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said his efforts to get the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to the discussion table on the contentious Mullaperiyar dam issue had ‘not succeed’ so far, but he had not given up hope yet.
He also said that Mullaperiyar was not an issue that cannot be solved through ‘dialogue, debate and discussion’.
‘I am trying to persuade both governments to sit together. I have not succeeded so far, but I have not given up hope,’ Manmohan Singh told reporters on board his special aircraft while returning home from Moscow after a summit meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Manmohan Singh, who described Tamil Nadu and Kerala as ‘two very very important states’ of the country, also observed that their well-being was ‘very dear to the hearts of the central government’ and to ‘my heart as well’.
‘There is a problem that has arisen (on Mullaperiyar dam). It is my sincere belief that there is no problem which cannot be resolved through dialogue, debate and discussion. And I am confident that when the two governments, their officials and chief ministers sit together, we will be able to find a mutually satisfactory solution.
‘If good sense prevails, as I do believe will prevail, I am confident in the leadership of both Tamil Nadu and Kerala and that in a mutually satisfactory manner, this problem can be resolved,’ he added.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. While it is located in Kerala’s Idduki district, the dam’s water serves Tamil Nadu, which also manages its affairs.
The dam is vital for people living in the drought-prone districts of Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivagangai and Ramanathapuram of Tamil Nadu. It irrigates about 220,000 acres and supplies drinking water to Madurai city and several towns.
Kerala wants the height to be lowered to 120 feet in view of the weakness of the dam.
Tamil Nadu wants storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from the present 136 feet to 142 feet as the state’s irrigation needs have shot up.