The decision is seen by many analysts as a response to the AIADMK which alleged that the DMK was eating out of Kerala’s hands by releasing water from the dam.

Water flowing out of the sluice gates of Mullaperiyar damImage credit: PRD
news Protest Saturday, November 06, 2021 - 09:04
Written by  IANS PTI

Amid his state's ongoing standoff with Kerala over the Mullaperiyar dam issue, Tamil Nadu Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan on Friday said the water level in the reservoir would be raised to 152 feet after strengthening the baby dam.

He also said he thinks the issue could be resolved only during the 'time' of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been at loggerheads over the century-old dam, with Kerala insisting the reservoir is not safe, and wants a new one in its place while its neighbour has been maintaining it was strong.

Talking to reporters after inspecting the Mullaperiyar dam, managed by Tamil Nadu, Duraimurugan also lashed out at the opposition AIADMK for announcing a protest on the issue against the state government, saying its top leaders, including K Palaniswami and O Panneerselvam, had not visited the dam in the last 10 years when the party was in the ruling saddle.

However, the opposition AIADMK has been alleging that the DMK led government in the state was eating out of the hands of Kerala and that water was released from the dam to suit Kerala. The AIADMK said that water being released will affect the farmers of Tamil Nadu, especially in the five agrarian districts of the state.

Asked about Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's statement that the dam was 'strong' but Kerala would hold talks with Tamil Nadu for a new structure and if the state was okay with it, the minister said he had "great respect" for the Kerala CM.

"I know him personally for a long time. He is an honest, cordial chief minister. I think this issue will end only during his time," Duraimurugan added.

On the issue of storage of water in the dam, it was in line with the Rule Curve proposed by the Central Water Commission, the minister said, adding, the state has taken "urgent, medium and long-term measures" to strengthen the dam ever since the issue was first raised in 1979 and ultimately wants to increase the level to 152 feet after strengthening the baby dam.

Three trees were required to be removed for this purpose, he said and indicated that the Kerala authorities were not doing so. 

"Soon, if those trees are removed, we will build (strengthen) baby dam and if done so we can go to (water level of) 152 feet as per the Supreme Court judgment," he added. 

The Minister was accompanied by his cabinet colleague I Periasamy and PWD Additional Chief Secretary Sandeep Saxena, among others.

The Minister’s decision has not gone down well with who spoke to reporters after visiting the dam has not gone down well in Kerala. Congress leader and Member of Parliament from Idukki constituency Dean Kuriakose came out strongly against the TN minister's statement.

Kuriakose told IANS," The Supreme Court and the supervisory committee appointed by the Supreme Court has fixed the water level at 142 feet but Kerala is not acceptable to even that height and the Tamil Nadu water resources minister making such a statement cannot be allowed,” he said. 

The Tamil Nadu government is in a fix after the AIADMK came out against the government and openly stated that the DMK had sold the interests of the state to Kerala. The AIADMK also announced protest marches and agitations in five southern districts to resolve the Mullaperiyar issue.

The statement of the minister that TN wants the water level in Mullaperiyar to be kept at a height of 152 m is seen by many analysts as a political statement against the AIADMK and to quell the allegations against the DMK government that it had sold out the state's interests to Kerala.