New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said that both Kerala and Tamil Nadu should observe restraint on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue and create an environment to facilitate a dialogue to find an amicable solution.
Manmohan Singh was speaking to the 23-member all-party delegation from Kerala, led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, which submitted a memorandum seeking his intervention and permission to construct a new dam to replace the 115-year-old leaking dam in the state's Idukki district.
The prime minister's remark came a day after the Supreme Court warned both the state governments to refrain from inflaming the passions of people on the issue. The court also pulled up Tamil Nadu for using its oral observations reported in newspapers in an advertisement for political gains.
The delegation from Kerala met the prime minister at his office in Parliament House. Besides Chandy, the team included former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan and several ministers.
"Following the PM's appeal, all agitations regarding the dam will be suspended immediately," Chandy told reporters after the meeting.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the 115-year-old masonry structure, built under an 1886 accord between then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. It is located in Kerala and its waters serve Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu wants the dam's storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from 136 feet (41.5 metres) to 142 feet (43 metres) as the state's irrigation needs have shot up.
Kerala is worried that a strong earthquake might damage the dam and cause widespread destruction. It is seeking a new dam in place of Mullaperiyar Dam and has offered to fund and build it, but Tamil Nadu does not agree.