Mullaperiyar Dam: Panneerselvam to Raise Water Level, Kerala Shudders in Fear

After the Supreme Court rejected Kerala government’s plea seeking its direction for lowering the water level in Mullaperiyar dam causing safety concern to residents, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Sunday sought cooperation to store water up to 142 ft.

In a fear of the rising water level that might led to a flood, Kerala CM Oommen Chandy has written to Tamil Nadu CM Panneerselvam days ago, expressing his concern over the safety of people and urged to reduce water level nearing to 142 ft. Panneerselvam was asked to lower the water level by diverting the excess waters to Vaigai Reservoir.

In his letter, Chandy has said, "It is true that our two states have differences of opinion regarding the safety aspects of the dam. The present situation demands prudent action on your part to allay fears of people living in downstream of the Mullaperiyar." Chandy mentioned that the water level in the dam had been rising above 136 feet in the last two weeks and has touched 139.50 feet. He said, “This was mainly due to drastic reduction in withdrawal of water to Vaigai Reservoir in Tamil Nadu in spite of its capacity to store more than three tmc of water.“

However, Panneerselvam in his reply letter to Chandy said, Panneerselvam, in a reply written on Sunday said, “The operation of the Mullai Periyar Reservoir is managed in such a way as to obtain optimum utilisation of the available water considering the probable monsoon rainfall and the need. Therefore, the Government of Kerala cannot interfere with the regulation of flows from the Mullai Periyar Dam.”

Tamil Nadu had already informed Kerala that the dam is "structurally", "hydrologically", "seismically" safe to initially store water upto 142 feet. Panneerselvam has also mentioned the SC’s decision, on last May, that stated “there is apparently no immediate justification to open the gates.” He said, "Tamil Nadu has to utilise the flows of Mullaperiyar dam to meet the entire requirements of Vaigai Basin depending on its own catchment and diversion of water from the reservoir."

In regard to the court’s direction, Panneerselvam said, “I, therefore, request you to extend full co-operation to implement the orders of the Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to store water up to 142 ft in Mullai Periyar Dam.”

The Mullaperiyar Dam was built under an 1886 accord between the Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj. Kerala and Tamil Nadu are locke in a dispute over the dam. The dam which is situated in the Idukki district of Kerala is however owned and operated by Tamil Nadu government.

Meanwhile, steps had taken to shift people from the areas which are likely to be affected area to safer places on Saturday. The cabinet has decided to file a case against the issue to the Supreme Court on Saturday.

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