It’s official, TN won’t hold dam talks with Kerala

Against the backdrop of Kerala pushing for an out-of-court settlement of the Mullaiperiyar issue, the Tamil Nadu government has decided not to send its public works and water resources department secretary M. Saikumar for talks with the state's neighbour on December 16.

The government told the Centre on Thursday to wait till the SC-appointed empowered committee (EC) studies the strength of the 116-year-old dam and submits its report.

Union water resources ministry secretary Dhruv Vijay Singh has confirmed the development.

The Union water resources ministry had called the meeting following Kerala pressure.

Sources said the government of Tamil Nadu had conveyed its inability to attend the meeting since its case against Kerala was pending before SC and the five-member empowered committee was yet to complete its study.

Sources said the state government had spent nearly Rs5 crore on tests and studies to verify the strength of the dam, as asked by EC.

TN water managers are worried that engaging Kerala before EC completes its task might send a wrong signal and weaken the state’s case.

EC has deputed two technical experts, C.K. Thatte (former chairman of central water commission) and D.K. Mehta (former chief engineer of CPWD), to inspect the dam once again to verify Kerala’s claims on frequent tremors and resultant damage to the dam.

The duo is expected in a week.

With opposition parties warning the AIADMK regime against falling in the 'talk trap', government sources feel Kerala could cite the talks as an excuse and plead before SC to put on hold any order.

TN recently filed two petitions before SC asking Kerala not to spread panic and seeking deployment of the CISF at the dam site while its counterpart filed an interim plea to lower the water level further to 120 feet from 136 feet despite it passing an amended Act fixing the cap at 136 feet five years ago.

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