Mullaperiyar Dam
Mullaperiyar dam reservoir water inside a wildlife sanctuary at Thekkady, Kerala. ( A file photo)Reuters

The Kerala Assembly on Monday unanimously passed a resolution to build a new dam to replace Mullaperiyar. The current dam is very old and leaking, posing a catostrope to the life and property of around 40 lakh people on the dam's downstream.

This is a record fourth time that the state Assembly passed the resolution to construct a new dam to replace the 119-year-old Mullaperiyar. The Assembly urged President Pranab Mukherjee to refer the matter to the Supreme Court and act as a mediator between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The two states are fighting a legal battle over the dam since 1979, when the dam was repaired. Now, while Kerala insists on the construction of a new dam, Tamil Nadu is opposing the move, claiming it can hold more water than the current level of 136 ft. 

Moving motion on the matter, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that the construction of a new dam is the only solution for the safety of people and to ensure water supply to Tamil Nadu.

Chandy said that in 1979, Kerala and Tamil Nadu had jointly opted for a site to build a new dam. Now, the Union government should mediate between the two states to realise the construction of the new dam and ensure the safety of the people, he added.

The Assembly resolution said that increasing the reservoir's height would pose danger to adjoining areas of the dam and the rare flora and wildlife. The Union government should see to that laws are enforced strictly for protection of forests, wildlife and environment in the dam area. 

The state government would not compromise on the safety of people living downstream, said PJ Joseph, the state's Minister for Water Resources. Now the construction of a new dam is the ultimate solution to the problem, he added.

Joseph also stressed that both state government and MPs from the state should put pressure on the Union government to formulate a law on the dam's safety. He also stressed on the need to mobilse public opinion via international forums against raising the height of water level in the dam.