Water at Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala’s Idukki district is inching towards the permissible level of 142 ft on Monday noon as the inflow of water to the 120-year-old dam increased due to heavy rains in the reservoir’s catchment area.
After Kerala raised alarm over the water level going up, Tamil Nadu increased the intake of the water from the dam to 1,800 cubic feet per second. Kerala has been always against increasing the water level at the dam, which is located in Kerala, but controlled by Tamil Nadu.
In the long-drawn-out legal battle between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court in May, 2014, had allowed Tamil Nadu to increase the water level from 136 ft to 142 ft. The water level had touched 142 ft in November, 2014, after an interregnum of 35 years.
Idukki District Collector V Ratheeshan said the water level at the dam has reached 141.8 ft. “Due to the pressure from Kerala side, Tamil Nadu has increased the drawing of water to 1,800 cubic feet per second. They have a capacity to intake 2,100 cubic feet of water per second. But, water intake is not increased to that maximum level mainly because Tamil Nadu wants to demonstrate that they have managed to store water at 142 ft,’’ said the district collector.
Rasheeshan said Tamil Nadu was asked to inform Kerala 12 hours in advance if the spillway shutters of the dam have to be lifted. “People residing downstream the dam need not worry. We have made all arrangements to relocate them to safe places and rescue teams have been made ready in vulnerable areas. Since, safety drills have been held several times and villagers downstream have been given counseling, relocation would be hassle-free,’’ he said.
In Kerala Assembly, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala said that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to air the state’s concern in the issue.
The permissible water level in the dam had been 152 ft. However, in 1980, the water level was brought down to 136 ft due to Kerala’s pressure. Tamil Nadu has been advocating for increasing the water level to 152 ft as Mullaperiyar water is lifeline for five districts in that state.