Setback to Kerala, TN allowed to store water till 142-ft mark of Mullaperiyar dam

Setback to Kerala, TN allowed to store water till 142-ft mark of Mullaperiyar dam

New Delhi: Bypassing Kerala's stiff objection, the Central Water Commission allowed Tamil Nadu to store water up to 142-feet level in the Mullaperiyar dam twice in a year. The rule curve submitted by Tamil Nadu to this effect was given approval by the Water Commission.

A rule curve or rule level specifies the storage of water which can be maintained in the dam every 10 days. It is meant to control floods. If the water level exceeds the limit set by the rule curve, the water from the dam will have to be released. On June 10, the rule curve was fixed at a water level of 136 feet. The rule curve for November 30 will be a water level of 142 feet.

The Supreme Court had ordered for introducing the rule curve, preparing guidelines for the operation of the shutter and installing security apparatus in the Mullaperiyar dam while hearing a petition filed by Dr Jo Joseph, a native of Kothamangalam.

Flawed report

Meanwhile, there were many contradictions in the affidavit given by Tamil Nadu in the case pending with the Supreme Court of India, regarding the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam. These contradictions were contained in the recent report prepared by the Central Water Commision on the basis of an order of the Supreme Court.

Tamil Nadu also put forward a claim in the report that may equipment in the dam could not be replaced. It said that many machinery, which had been found defective earlier, are functioning now without any problem.

The petitioner's point

Dr Jo Joseph had approached the Supreme Court questioning the propriety of setting up sub-committees when there is already a supervisory panel in place to monitor the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam.

The supervisory committee had earlier asked Tamil Nadu to hand over data for the last 10 years to the Central Water Commission and Kerala regarding the extent of variations that the dam structure had gone through. It was given in the report of the Water Commission that the data was not yet given by Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu had also not honoured the demand for making available meteorological data to Kerala and the Water Commission.

Tamil Nadu's other claim was that no damage was found in the equipment which are available for inspection. But on the other hand, Tamil Nadu didn't state that the machinery was fully functional.

In the report given by the Instrumentation Director of the Water Commission, Kerala claimed that 70 percent of machinery in the dam was non-functional. To the demand from Kerala's side that Tamil Nadu should install modern machinery to gauge the challenges faced by the structure of the dam, the latter replied that all modern gadgets were available now at the dam site to take out such an exercise.

Nearly 130-year old Mullaperiyar dam is over the Periyar River in Kerala's Idukki district. As per an agreement made during the British Raj, Tamil Nadu has been diverting water from the dam.

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