India's Mullaperiyar dam 'safe after earthquake'

Mullaperiyar dam
Image caption The British-built Mullaperiyar dam is 116 years old

Experts appointed by India's Supreme Court say a recent earthquake has not damaged a controversial 116-year-old dam in Kerala, reports say.

The Mullaperiyar dam has been a source of rising tension between Kerala and the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

Kerala has demanded that the British-built dam be demolished and rebuilt. Tamil Nadu insists the dam is safe and demands its water level be raised.

MPs from the two states have clashed over the issue in parliament.

The two technical experts - former bureaucrat CD Thatte and retired engineer DK Mehta - inspected all the dams in and around Mullaperiyar after the recent tremors, The Hindu newspaper reported.

The two submitted their report on Tuesday to a committee set up by the Supreme Court to assess the safety of the dam.

Although the report is yet to be made public, its contents have been leaked to the media.

The committee, headed by former chief justice of India AS Anand, is due to submit its report to the court by the end of the month.

Water level

Although the dam, built in 1886, is in Kerala, Tamil Nadu operates it under a 999-year lease agreement to irrigate farmland on its side.

Kerala says the dam is dilapidated and could crumble any time, and wants it demolished.

Tamil Nadu maintains the dam was repaired in 1979 and insists its walls can hold more water than the current level of 136ft (41m).

Over the past few weeks, leaders from both Kerala and Tamil Nadu have met the prime minister to seek his intervention.

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