It will prevent Tamil Nadu from drawing excess water from the dam

As part of its ongoing bid to cork loopholes in the inter-State river water sharing agreements with Tamil Nadu, Kerala’s Irrigation Department has started efforts to plug and seal an additional pipeline below the dead storage level of the Siruvani dam saying the neighbouring State had laid it in violation of the Siruvani agreement of 1973 and keeping Kerala authorities in complete darkness.

The controversial nine-foot diameter pipeline was exposed to Kerala authorities only during the last drought season when the water level in the dam which supplies drinking water to Coimbatore city and surroundings dipped below the dead storage level.

The work involving specially trained divers and underwater concreting experts from Kochi was started on Saturday morning under the supervision of chief engineer K.P. Balan and executive engineer John Alexander. The work would be completed by Tuesday afternoon and thereafter Tamil Nadu would not be able to extract excess water if dam water level dips below the dead storage. It was in April last week that the Irrigation Department decided to seal the pipeline through underwater concreting.

When contacted, Mr. Balan clarified that the plugging of the pipeline would in no way affect the existing water sharing arrangement with Tamil Nadu to satiate the thirst of residents of Coimbatore. It was only to prevent drawing of excess water from the dam, he said.

As far as Tamil Nadu was concerned, there was not much opposition to the plugging of the pipeline as it was not covered by the Siruvani agreement. Though Coimbatore district administration brought it to the attention of Tamil Nadu government, there was no official move to prevent the work.

P. Lathika, chief engineer, Irrigation Department, Kerala, said the move to seal the pipe was to ensure there was no excess leakage of water from the reservoir.

She also added that Tamil Nadu would continue to get its share of water as per the agreement between the two States.

According to officials from Kerala, the pipeline is located below the dead storage level and water has been constantly flowing from the dam to Tamil Nadu through it.