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Kerala Floods: Tension Brews Between Kerala, Tamil Nadu on Overflowing Mullaperiyar Dam

On account of the huge rains that hit Idukki in the past week, on Wednesday the sluice gates of the Mullaperiyar dam were opened after the water level touched 142 feet mark.

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Updated:August 16, 2018, 12:29 AM IST
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Kerala Floods: Tension Brews Between Kerala, Tamil Nadu on Overflowing Mullaperiyar Dam
An aeriel view of the flooded locality of Aluva after heavy rains in Kerala on Friday. (PTI Photo)
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Idukki: The contentious Mullaperiyar Dam issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which is now before the Supreme Court following heavy rains over the past week, has triggered fresh tension between the two states.

Although the dam is located in Kerala, it serves and is operated by Tamil Nadu, and Kerala has for long been demanding de-commissioning of the dam which has over the years developed leaks.

On account of the huge rains that hit Idukki in the past one week, in the wee hours of Wednesday around 2.35 am, the sluice gates of the dam were opened after the water level touched 142 feet mark.

Incidentally, the route that the water from the Mullaperiyar Dam takes reaches the catchment area of the Idukki dam, which is also overflowing currently.

After a review meeting on Wednesday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote an email to his counterpart in Tamil Nadu, K Palaniswami, asking him to reduce Mullaperiyar water level to 139ft. He said inflow to the reservoir is more than the releasing quantity of water.

The Kerala chief minister followed up his message to Tamil Nadu's CM with phone calls to PM Narendra Modi and the union home minister Rajnath Singh, urging them to nudge Tamil Nadu to release some water from the dam to bring down the water level to 139 feet.

But the SOS seems to have failed to yield a result as the Tamil Nadu government has taken the stand that there was no need to reduce the water level of the Mullaperiyar dam below the present 142 ft.

A senior official of the state government said the “entire inflow” would be discharged and the water level maintained at 142 ft. The position was said to have been conveyed by the principal secretary (Public Works) SK Prabakar to his counterpart in Kerala, Hindu reported.

Anxious people living around the dam and downstream reacted sharply to the way things are being handled and wished that this is the time that the Supervisory Committee of the apex court should make a visit to the dam site and see for themselves that danger lurks here.

Tamil Nadu has all along maintained that the dam is safe, and a Supreme Court directive in May 2014 allowed the state to increase the water level from 136 feet to a maximum of 142 feet.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British regime.

With the ongoing downpour in and around Idukki dam, there is anxiety over the way Tamil Nadu would handle the water level in the dam, as they use the waters of the dam using large penstock pipes for irrigating their farmland.

Reports have surfaced that Tamil Nadu has now reduced its offtake to prove a point that the dam is safe and the water level in the dam could be raised further to 152 feet.
| Edited by: Naqshib Nisar
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