TN, Kerala CMs agree to resolve river water-sharing issues

Thiruvananthapuram: A high-level meeting between Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his Tamilnadu counterpart Edappadi K Palaniswami yesterday agreed to review the 60-year-old Parambikulam-Aliyar Project (PAP) after forming a secretary-level committee to discuss the matter.

The two States have also agreed that its Chief Secretaries would meet once in six months and discuss the functioning of the secretary-level committee formed to resolve the river water-sharing issues.

The Tamilnadu delegation, led by Chief Minister Palaniswami, which reached here yesterday, discussed various inter-state water issues, including the PAP, with Vijayan and State Ministers.

“We discussed the Parambikulam project, Anamalai, Pandiyar-Punnapuzha, Pamba Achankovil diversion and many more. We have decided to form a 10 member (five from each state) secretary-level committee to discuss matters and resolve the issues. The committee will be formed within a week and it will decide the date of the next meeting,” Vijayan told reporters after the talks.

The two Chief Ministers along with their Ministers and Chief Secretaries jointly addressed the media after the meeting.

Vijayan said the earlier agreement on PAP was around 60-years-old and its review and other matters will be discussed by the secretary-level committee.

Palaniswami described his meeting with Kerala counterpart as an “excellent start” and indicated that dialogue was the way forward to iron out differences.

Referring to the May 2014 Supreme Court verdict on Mullaperiyar, he said efforts will be taken to sort out “problems” in this issue.

The apex court had then held that the 120 year-old dam was structurally safe and allowed Tamilnadu to raise the water level to 142 feet and eventually to 152 feet after completion of strengthening measures on it.

The farmers and people of Kerala and Tamilnadu were living in brotherhood and “the time has come for them to work together,” Palaniswami added.

“It was decided in the meeting to hold talks on many small issues through the respective committees..as a first step, we have initiated talks (today). Efforts to solve inter-state water-sharing issues (through dialogue) has been initiatied,” he said.

This was the first meeting between the chief ministers of the two states in 15 years, he had said.

In 2004, the then Chief Ministers late J Jayalalithaa and Oommen Chandy had met in Chennai.

Palaniswami was accompanied by Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani, Tamilnadu Deputy Speaker ‘Pollachi’ V Jayaraman, Chief Secretary K Shanmugam, secretaries and chief engineers.

Kerala has been expressing concern over Tamilnadu’s approach to the river-water sharing agreement, signed by the two states in 1970, with retrospective effect from 1958.

The PAP is an inter-state multi-purpose project completed in late 1960s and its functioning is based on an agreement between the two States.

The project diverts the water from the basins of three west flowing rivers originating from the western ghats along the Kerala-Tamilnadu border, namely the Periyar, Chalakkudipuzha and Bharathapuzha.

These rivers are mainly fed by the southwest monsoon and northeast monsoon rainfall.The water diverted to the east is mainly used for irrigation purpose.

Kerala Water Resources Minister K Krishnankutty, Forest Minister K Raju, Chief Secretary Tom Jose, higher officials of Electricity Board and other officials were part of the Kerala team which met the Tamilnadu delegation.