CM says Mullaperiyar dam is safe, to move against social media scaremongers

Thiruvananthapuram: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday brushed aside fears of any danger to the Mullaperiyar dam in which the water level had risen to over 137 ft.

"Legal action will be taken against those who are spreading fake information in the social media with the intention of creating a scare about Mullaperiyar dam, " the Chief Minister told the Assembly. "There is no danger to the dam now, " he said.

The Chief Minister also said that the Tamil Nadu government was also cooperating well. "There are no outstanding bilateral issues that could not be solved through talks, " the Chief Minister said.

He was responding to a supplementary question raised by Udumbanchola MLA M M Mani on public fears about the perceived danger to the over 100-year-old dam. "If anything happens, lakhs of people in Idukki and Ernakulam would be affected. People are deeply concerned, " Mani said.

Earlier, Opposition Leader V D Satheesan also wanted the government to allay people's concerns about a rumoured dam burst. "The social media is agog with discussions about the danger to the dam. On social media, people have rallied around two points of view. One wants the water level to be reduced and the other wants the dam decommissioned," Satheesan said. Film star Prithviraj, for instance, has pitched for decommissioning.

The latest round of fear had erupted with a report, 'Ageing Water Storage Infrastructure: An Emerging Global Risk', linked to the United Nations. The report says that the Mullaperiyar Dam, constructed in 1895, was in a landslide-prone area. It says that any breach in the dam's safety could jeopardize the lives of over 35 lakh people.

The Chief Minister did not mention the UN report but said all fears were misplaced and were mere scaremongering.

Nonetheless, he said Kerala still holds to its considered stand on the future of Mullaperiyar dam. "The Centre and Tamil Nadu have differences of opinion but we want a new dam in Mullaperiyar, " the Chief Minister told the Assembly.

On Monday, when the water level touched 137.10 ft, 2200 million cubic feet of water from the Mullaperiyar dam was diverted to Vaigai Dam in Theni district, Tamil Nadu. However, the inflow into the Mullaperiyar dam has come down considerably with the diminished intensity of rainfall.

Tamil Nadu had long before secured from the Supreme Court the mandate to keep the water level in the dam up to 142 ft, twice a year.

Originally, Tamil Nadu wanted the level to be 152 ft. Kerala, where the dam is situated, wanted the level to be capped at is at 136 ft.

Mullaperiyar level: SC raps Kerala, TN for dragging their feet

New Delhi: The Supreme Court, hearing the pleas seeking directions for the proper monitoring of the water level at Mullaperiyar dam, rapped the Kerala government on Monday for needlessly using the court as an avenue for a debate with Tamil Nadu on the matter of keeping dam's water level in check, an argument that had been raging on for several years.

The court stated that had proper actions been taken by the concerned authorities at the right intervals, the issue wouldn't have flared up to the point that it has.

It said the matter was between the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and urged the two to engage in talks and find an amicable solution at the earliest.

"It's a very serious issue. It's a matter of people's lives and property," the court said, pointing out the lack of coordination between the two states.

However, taking cognisance of the many calamities that had hit Kerala in recent years, the court also asked the central government to "understand the [state's] anxiousness".

It called for the centre's response for an immediate resolution to the debacle that has plagued the two states for years.

Kerala had sought the apex court's intervention after it came to light that the inflow of water to the dam from its catchment area was two times more than what Tamil Nadu was drawing.

With more rain forecast in the region, the state told the court that "people's lives were in danger".

Earlier, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had written to his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin on Sunday requesting that more water be drawn from the Mullaperiyar dam via the Vaigai river to Tamil Nadu.

This he said will ease the burden on Kerala rivers should there be a significant inflow from the dam's catchment areas and water-level reaches the capacity-mark of 142 ft earlier than anticipated.

In that scenario, the sudden raising of the shutters would not leave enough time for adequate precautionary measures leading to heavy loss in life and property, Vijayan said.

Kerala has already been battered by a slew of landslides and floods. Forty-two lives were lost in various rain-related incidents across the state these past two weeks.

However, Tamil Nadu, in its response, told the court that there is no significant rise in the water level at the Mullaperiyar dam.

In the past, the control and safety of the dam, and the validity and fairness of the lease agreement of the Mullaperiyar Dam had led to dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Kerala has accused the Tamil Nadu government of "sudden releases" of water several times in the past.

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