Published on: August 6, 2021
What is in news : Kerala seeks consent of Tamilnadu to construct new dam at Mullaperiyar
- 123-year-old dam
- Located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers
- Location – Idukki district
- Height – 53.66 metres
- Length – 365.85 metres
- Operated and maintained by the Tamil Nadu for meeting the drinking water and irrigation requirements of five of its southern districts
The issue :
- 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.
- 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.
- What Tamil Nadu says: Tamil Nadu claims that although it has undertaken measures to strengthen the dam, the Kerala government has blocked any attempt to raise the reservoir water level – resulting in losses for Madurai farmers.
- Kerala’s arguments: Kerala, however, highlights fears of devastation by residents living downstream in the earthquake-prone district of Idukki.