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Unquiet waters: Three states of dispute

Everything you need to know about the water disputes down south

mperiyar759 The 119-year-old dam Mullaperiyar dam has been a bone of contention between Kerala and Tamil Nadu for years.

On Tuesday, Tamil Nadu complained to Kerala about an MLA’s alleged attack on engineers at the Mullaperiyar dam site. Three days earlier, Kerala had moved the Supreme Court, asking that the water level in the 119-year-old dam, which had risen above 140 ft, be reduced. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had written to his Tamil Nadu counterpart O Panneerselvam, to which the latter replied that both states must follow the May 2014 Supreme Court verdict, which allowed water to be stored up to 142 feet.

Also on Tuesday, Panneerselvam announced that Tamil Nadu would move the Court to seek the scrapping of the construction by Karnataka of two dams on the Cauvery near Mekedatu, northwest of Stanley reservoir and Mettur dam. And, farmers from southern Tamil Nadu too have been protesting the construction by Kerala of a dam on the Pambar, which, they say will impact farmland in Tirupur and Karur.

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MULLAPERIYAR DAM, Periyar river, Kerala

On Wednesday, the water level was at 141.6 ft, the highest in three decades, and just under the Supreme Court-decided limit of 142 ft. Tamil Nadu has refused to heed Kerala’s request to increase the intake of water so that the fears of people in Idukki are mitigated. Kerala, which believes the dam may no longer be strong enough to hold this massive volume of water, is ready to evacuate people living in the danger zone. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, has refused to compromise on its right to control the flow of the river.

2 DAMS AT MEKEDATU, Cauvery river, Karnataka

Following the announcement of two dam projects by Karnataka on the Cauvery near Mekedatu, to the east of Mysore on the border with Tamil Nadu, to store 48 TMC ft of water, Tamil Nadu has petitioned the SC saying that “Karnataka cannot unilaterally take up the construction of the two reservoirs as it would result in impounding of the flows in the intermediate catchment below the Krishnaraja Sagar and Kabini reservoirs, and Billigundulu in the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu”. The project, according to Tamil Nadu, would impact flow into the Mettur dam during the crucial period of cultivation and seriously affect the interests of Tamil Nadu farmers.


Hundreds of farmers from the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, Tirupur and Karur, are fighting a proposed dam project by Kerala across the Pambar river. Initial works for the project have already begun. Protesting farmers say building storage capacity of 2 TMC ft on the Pambar, which is a tributary of the Amaravathy, which itself is a tributary of the Cauvery, is violative of treaties on the use of Cauvery water, and that a dam would affect the flow of water to the Amaravathi reservoir in the Amaravathi reserve forest in Tirupur, key to irrigating the region.



First published on: 20-11-2014 at 03:33:49 pm
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