New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram/Chennai, Dec 7: The vexed Mullaperiyar dam row took a new turn on Wednesday with stray incidents of violence targeting Keralites reported in parts of Tamil Nadu even as Kerala decided to step up pressure on the Centre by taking an all-party delegation to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Sticking to the state's stand on construction of a new dam, an issue which triggered the current crisis, Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy announced after a cabinet meeting that the delegation would soon meet Singh.
His announcement came as Kerala filed an interim plea in the Supreme Court seeking to lower the water level to 120 ft in the 116-year-old dam, opposing Tamil Nadu's plea for raising the level to 142 ft.
The delegation would press for a new dam in view of the serious safety concerns caused due to frequent tremors in Idukki district where the present structure is located.
Protests against Kerala's stand took an ugly turn when some protesters in Tamil Nadu set a bus on fire and targeted commercial establishments owned by Keralites in Chennai and some other parts of the state.
Security has been stepped up in the city as the row over the dam escalated with both Tamil Nadu and Kerala upping the ante on the issue.
A Kerala-bound bus was set ablaze in Gudalur in Theni district after the passengers were asked to alight. In Coimbatore, 40 persons, belonging to two different organisations, were arrested when they attempted to force some shopowners, particularly jewellery establishments run by Kerala-based groups, to down shutters.
Meanwhile, the Mullaperiyar Dam issue generated heat in Parliament with members from Tamil Nadu and Kerala clashing in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
In the Lok Sabha, Idukki member P T Thomas (Cong) and Kottayam member Jose K Mani (KC-M) raised the issue during Zero Hour.
They sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's "immediate intervention" and wanted an all party MPs' delegation to visit "ground zero" to study the situation.
The issue led to noisy scenes towards the fag end of the day and the House had to be adjourned till tomorrow.
Amid protests from MPs from Tamil Nadu, Thomas said the area where the 116-year old dam is located witnessed 26 earth quakes since July 26 and "tens of thousands of people are on streets" in four districts of Kerala fearing that it will collapse.
Referring to a study conducted by IIT-Roorkee, Thomas said an earthquake measuring 5 to 6.5 can shake the area and cause damage to the structure. "It is estimated that more than 35 lakh people of Idukki and adjoining districts will be affected if anything happens to the Mullaperiyar Dam," he said as AIADMK and DMK members continued their protests.
Mani said an all party delegation must be sent to Mullaperiyar to study the reality about the dam constructed in 1885. As the uproar continued, the House was adjourned for the day.
In the Rajya Sabha too, members from Kerala and Tamil Nadu clashed over the Dam controversy and sought the Centre's intervention in resolving the contentious issue. The matter was raised by AIADMK leader V Maitreyan during Zero Hour.