Shutters of Mullaperiyar Dam to be opened at 7 am on Friday, Tamil Nadu assures Kerala

Mullaperiyar Dam
Water level at Mullaperiyar Dam reached 138.05 ft by Thursday.

With the water level at Mullaperiyar Dam crossing 138 ft, Tamil Nadu has agreed to open the shutters and release water from 7 am on October 29.

At present, the water level is 138.05 ft. It was 137.80 ft by 9 pm on Wednesday.

Tamil Nadu will be releasing 5,800 cusecs per second, from which they will draw 2,300 cusecs through the tunnel to Vaigai basin.

Last night, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin had reassured Kerala that his government "will ensure that the interests of both states and our people are well safeguarded".

Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine had said on Wednesday that "the inflow into the reservoir was 3,800 cubic feet per second but Tamil Nadu draws 2,300 cubic feet out of the dam every second."

Earlier, Kerala had opposed the stand taken by the Mullaperiyar supervisory committee in the Supreme Court that there was no need to reduce the prescribed maximum water level in Mullaperiyar dam.

"The Supervisory Committee's stand is unacceptable," Augustine had said on Wednesday. "The water level in Mullaperiyar is rising quickly. There were instances when the level had risen by four to five feet a day," the minister had said.  

Augustine had said that people living downstream of Mullaperiyar need not worry in case the shutters of the dam were opened as preventive measures were already taken. He said Kerala was pushing for a new dam to allay the fears of the people.

"We will not deny water to the people of Tamil Nadu," he said.

Revenue Minister K Rajan had said that, in the worst case scenario, 873 families living downstream Mullaperiyar will be relocated. The water from Mullaperiyar travels nearly 30 kms along places like Vallakkadavu, Vandiperiyar and Ayyappankovil before reaching the Idukki reservoir. On October 26, the Idukki dam was 94% full. On Wednesday, after rains had abated, the Kerala State Electricity Board Limited (KSEB) had closed the shutters of Idukki dam.

Rajan said the names, addresses and phone numbers of people living along the course of the river flow had been collected. Relief camps have also been set up, he said.

The latest IMD alert predicting heavy rains till October 31 seems to have imparted a greater urgency to Kerala's demand. Two low-pressure formations over the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea are, however, cause for concern. The IMD, in its latest bulletin, has said that a low-pressure area has formed over central parts of South Bay of Bengal with associated cyclonic circulation extending up to 5.8 km over mean sea level.

In addition to this, a depression has formed over the Arabian Sea. Under the influence of these two low-pressure formations, the IMD has predicted isolated heavy rainfall over Kerala between October 27 and 31.

The Supervisory Committee had firmed up its stand before the IMD warning had arrived. According to the committee, the current maximum water level was decided on the basis of the 'Rule Curve' drawn up for the dam. The Committee submitted its position to the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Kerala, however, wanted the level fixed at 139 ft.

As per the Rule Curve, which is maximum water level in a dam at various stages in a year, the maximum water level in Mullaperiyar can go up to 138 ft till October 31. Kerala's concern is that if the water level in the dam was not controlled at this stage, things could get out of hand in the event of heavy rains. Already, heavy isolated rainfall, going up to 115 mm a day, has been predicted in Idukki district till October 31.

Meantime, hinting that things are getting back to normal, KSEB Limited declared on Wednesday that it was closing all the shutters of its major dams like Idukki and Kakki. "The water level in all major dams is below the upper rule level," an official KSEBL statement said.

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