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Not Mullaperiyar, Kerala's Own Surplus Water Caused Floods: Tamil Nadu Files Counter Affidavit

The Supreme Court has directed water level at Mullaperiyar dam be maintained at 139.99 feet till August 31 even as the blame game over devastating floods in Kerala escalated on Friday.

News18.com

Updated:August 24, 2018, 5:42 PM IST
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Not Mullaperiyar, Kerala's Own Surplus Water Caused Floods: Tamil Nadu Files Counter Affidavit
The Mullaperiyar Dam is located on the Western Ghats near Thekkady in Idukki district of Kerala on the Periyar river.
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed that the water level at Mullaperiyar dam be maintained at 139.99 feet till August 31 even as the blame game over devastating floods in Kerala escalated with Tamil Nadu objecting to neighbour’s claim that the killer deluge was triggered by sudden release from the reservoir.

Seeking more time along with Karnataka to file its reply, the Tamil Nadu government told the court that a “sinister design” was in the offing, adding that the ongoing proceedings appeared to be a “plot” to skirt the top court’s order in the Mullaperiyar dam case.

Tamil Nadu, in its counter affidavit, has put the blame on the Kerala government for obstructing "to complete the balance strengthening works to enable Tamil Nadu to restore water the level upto 152 ft".

Contrary to Kerala's claims on Thursday, Tamil Nadu has said that the volume of water released from the Mullaperiyar dam to Idukki is in fact far less than the quantity exceeded by Idukki and Idamalaiyar dams in Kerala.

"Thus, it is seen that flood surplus from the Idukki dam is mainly due to the flows generated from its own independent catchment due to unprecedented heavy rainfall while the contribution from Mullaperiyar dam was significantly less," Tamil Nadu's affidavit justified.

Setting September 6 as the next date of hearing, the Supreme Court said it won’t treat the matter as a dispute between the states and was concerned only about human life and the disaster.

In its affidavit on Thursday, the Kerala government had told the Supreme Court that out of a total population of about 3.48 crore, more than 54 lakh or one-sixth, had been directly affected by the floods.



It said that in the wake of prior alerts by its engineers, Kerala's Water Resources Secretary had written to her counterpart in Tamil Nadu and the Chairman of the Supervisory Committee on Mullaperiyar dam, requesting controlled release of water without waiting for the water level in the reservoir to reach its full level.

"Accordingly, the Tamil Nadu Government was requested to gradually release water at least by 139 feet...But no positive assurance in this regard was received from Tamil Nadu even after repeated requests... But the sudden release from the Mullaperiyar dam, third largest reservoir in the Periyar Basin, forced us to release more water from Idukki reservoir, downstream of Mullaperiyar, which is one of the causes of this deluge," the affidavit said.

The Mullaperiyar Dam is located on the Western Ghats near Thekkady in Idukki district of Kerala on the Periyar river.

The Kerala government said that to avoid a repeat of such situations, the Supervisory Committee be headed by the Chairman of the Central Water Commission with Secretaries of both the states as members.

This panel should be empowered to take decisions by a majority opinion regarding operations during flood or any similar crisis, it said.
The Kerala government also sought the constitution of a Management committee to manage the day-to-day operations of the Mullaperiyar Dam.

The affidavit was filed in pursuance to August 18 direction of the apex court which had asked the Kerala Chief Secretary to show the steps they have been taken to meet the needs of disaster management, rescue operations and rehabilitation.

Kerala resident Russel Roy had filed a plea seeking, among other things, a direction to Tamil Nadu to manage the water level in the dam as the floods in Kerala have created a havoc.

The top court had earlier ordered the disaster management panel of the Mullaperiyar Dam to urgently decide on lowering the water level.

The direction to consider reducing the water level up to 139 feet from the existing 142 feet had come in the backdrop of the Kerala Chief Minister writing to his Tamil Nadu counterpart EK Palaniswami seeking lowering of the water-level in the Mullaperiyar dam in the interest of its safety.

The top court had said the committee may suggest measures before releasing water in the downstream areas to handle the disaster so that the people are not hit by "the catastrophe of the flood".

Tamil Nadu government had opposed the plea with regard to bringing down the water level in the dam, saying the current inflow of water into the dam was 20,000 cusecs and due to rains, it may not be possible to reduce water level immediately.

(With PTI inputs)
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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