Published on: October 26, 2021
MULLAPERIYAR DAM ISSUE
What is in news : The Supreme Court directed the Supervisory Committee to take an immediate and firm decision on the maximum water level that can be maintained at Mullaperiyar dam
- Kerala said the water level should not go above 139 feet, the same as what the court had ordered on August 24, 2018, when the State was hit by floods.
- Inflow into the reservoir was 2,220 cusecs, and the outflow was 2,200 cusecs.
- As regards Kerala’s contention not to raise the water level beyond 139 feet, Supreme Court had, in judgments in 2006 and 2014, fixed the maximum water level at 142 feet.
- The court asked officials of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to interact responsibly and avert any danger to lives.
MULLAPERIYAR DAM CRISIS
- The dam is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers in Kerala’s Idukki district.
- Although the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu following an 1886 lease indenture for 999 years (the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement) that was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for India for the Periyar Irrigation works.
- Constructed between 1887 and 1895, the dam redirected the river to flow towards the Bay of Bengal, instead of the Arabian Sea and provide water to the arid rain region of Madurai in Madras Presidency.
- The lease agreement was renewed in the 1970s by both Tamil Nadu and Kerala giving the former rights to the land and water from the dam, besides the authority to develop hydropower projects at the site. In return, Kerala would receive rent from Tamil Nadu.
- The first cracks in this agreement surfaced in 1979 when a minor earthquake had resulted in cracks in the dam.
- The Central Water Commission, under the Government of India, conducted a study and recommended lowering the water stored in the dam’s reservoir to 136 feet from 142 feet.
- If definitive measures were implemented, only then could the Tamil Nadu administration raise water levels to the dam’s full capacity of 152 feet.