Tamil Nadu and Kerala slug it out over Mullaperiyar dam

THE longstanding controversy over the Mullaperiyar dam on the river Periyar assumed bitter proportions in December 2006 with the Kerala government accusing its Tamil Nadu counterpart of pulling out of talks initiated by the Union minister of water resources, Saifudin Soz. The talks had begun on September 25 after directives from the Supreme Court. But it reached a dead-end with both sides refusing to budge from their well-held positions. Tamil Nadu's minister for public works, Durai Murugan, insisted that raising water levels in Mullaperiyar's reservoir is necessary to irrigate large tracts in the state. Kerala's minister for water resources, N K Premachandran, on the other hand, contended that raising the reservoir's levels would be inimical to the safety of 35 lakh people who live in districts downstream Periyar river.

Mullaperiyar dam is situated in Kerala's Idukki district, but it's owned and operated by the Tamil Nadu government according to a 1886 agreement between the Maharaja of Travancore (which today is part of Kerala) and the then Madras Presidency. About 3,200 hectares (ha) were leased out by the Maharaja