Thiruvananthapuram | Constructing a new dam to replace the existing over a century-old reservoir on river Mullaperiyar, located in the high-range district of Idukki, is the only solution to ensure the safety of the lakhs of people living downstream, the Kerala government said on Thursday.
The government's reiteration of its stand on the issue was part of the customary policy address of his government in the State Assembly by Governor Arif Mohammed Khan.
He skipped major parts of the address, including mention of the over 125 year-old Mullaperiyar Dam, over which the state is locked in a battle with neighbouring Tamil Nadu and quickly finished by reading only the last paragraph.
While the opposition expressed disapproval of the Governor's quick ending of the policy address, the Left government sought to downplay it by stating Khan fulfilled his Constitutional obligation properly.
"My Government is of the view that the construction of a new dam, conforming to recent standards of design and construction, in the downstream reaches of the existing Mullaperiyar dam is the only solution for protecting the safety of lakhs of people living downstream," according to the policy address.
It said the dam's front and rear faces are constructed of uncoursed rubble masonry in lime mortar and the central core constructed with lime-surkhi concrete.
"Taking into account the excessive and erratic rainfall and floods during the monsoon seasons in 2018-2021, particularly in Idukki district, the only solution lies in constructing a new dam which assures water to Tamil Nadu and safety to the people of Kerala living in the downstream region," it said.
The policy address said Kerala has expressed this view in all related forums and will take all possible steps for an amicable settlement with Tamil Nadu.
The Mullaperiyar dam was built in 1895.
While Tamil Nadu has been maintaining that the dam was "absolutely safe", Kerala has been vociferous in its demand for a new dam to be built near the existing structure.