Kerala apprehension over dam is bypoll fear: PC

Chennai: Terming the Kerala government`s apprehension over safety of the Mullaperiyar dam as "unnecessary", Home Minister P Chidambaram today claimed it was borne out of "bypoll fear".

"It is an unnecessary fear. It is not even a temporary or a permanent fear. It is only a bypoll fear," he said apparently referring to the upcoming Assembly bypoll to Piravom constituency in Kerala.

The problem would not have arisen if the Election Commission had conducted the bypoll to that seat, he said, suggesting that the issue had been raked up for political reasons.

The date for the bypoll is yet to be announced. "The dam was built for Tamil Nadu and the water from it is meant for us…for the five districts in Tamil Nadu. If they (Kerala) fear it will collapse, we too have the responsibility to protect it," he said.

Observing that the Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee, which is going into the issue, would submit its report by February 2012, he hoped that the outcome would be favourable to Tamil Nadu.

"Based on the reports of experts and information available, I sincerely hope that a favourable order will be given to Tamil Nadu by Supreme Court…," he said.

Chidambaram said till the apex court gives its verdict on the dam issue by February or March 2012, the people of two states should maintain calm and peace.

"It is the responsibility of the Centre to allay the fears of Kerala people which it will do. Besides, the Centre will also take steps to protect the dam. When these two duties are done, we will get a good verdict. Till then, we need to show maturity and maintain calm…," he said.

Shipping Minister G K Vasan said the "normal" demands raised by Tamil Nadu government would provide a good result on the issue.

Congress leader E V K S Elangovan demanded that the Kerala government be dismissed for not obeying the earlier Supreme Court order on raising the dam`s water level to 142 ft.