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TN wants Centre to resolve water disputes

Source: PTI
February 20, 2010 20:46 IST
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The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government in Tamil Nadu on Saturday pitched for central intervention in inter-state water disputes, as the party upped the ante on the Mullaperiyar Dam row with Kerala saying the Supreme Court ruling appointing a committee on the issue was not acceptable to it.

"The Centre should intervene in any inter-state river dispute and hold discussions with chief ministers or engineers of the respective states and take appropriate action," Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said after chairing a meeting of the DMK's General Council, its top policy-making body.

Karunanidhi, whose party is a United Progressive Alliance ally, said Centre's intervention was necessary for an amicable settlement of water disputes to 'maintain national integrity and sovereignty' and for ensuring cordial relationships among states.

"I have written to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in this regard," he told mediapersons in Chennai.

Besides the Mullaperiyar issue, Tamil Nadu is entangled in the decades-old Cauvery water-sharing row with Karnataka and is opposing construction of a check dam across Palar river by Andhra Pradesh.

To a query on Cauvery, he said the issue had been put on the back-burner after Karnataka moved the court against a tribunal verdict awarding 419 TMC ft water to Tamil Nadu.

In a move expected to intensify the row between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the DMK general council adopted a resolution saying there was no need for the state to nominate its representative to the apex court's five-member committee to examine safety aspects of the Mullaperiyar reservoir.

"This General Council strongly believes there is no need for state government's representative in the committee," it said noting that safety of the dam had already been proved in the apex court by a seven-member panel formed by the Centre.

The committee, headed by former Chief Justice of India A S Anand, was appointed on February 18 by the apex court which directed the Centre to choose the remaining four members while authorising the two states to nominate one member each.

At loggerheads with each other, the two neighbouring states are locked in a legal tangle on the issue of building a new reservoir for which Kerala has been plumping for while Tamil Nadu is stiffly opposing the move.

The dam, located in Kerala's Idukki district, is controlled by Tamil Nadu, which wants to raise the water level in the dam from 136 feet to 142 feet to augment supply for irrigation and drinking water needs of southern districts.

DMK resolution pointed out that Kerala had not honoured the February 2006 Supreme Court judgement allowing Tamil Nadu to raise water level and even amended the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, apparently aimed at circumventing the apex court order.

The Kerala government had recently undertaken a preliminary survey for a new dam after getting the clearance from the Union environment and forest ministry, which has come in for strong opposition from Tamil Nadu.

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