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Updated: May 6, 2012 10:34 IST

It is not all gloom yet on Mullaperiyar dam

George Jacob
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A file picture of Mullaperiyar Das. Photo: K. K. Mustafah.
The Hindu A file picture of Mullaperiyar Das. Photo: K. K. Mustafah.

Even as critics expounding ‘all is lost on Mullaperiyar front’ slogan have taken centre stage in the State over the report of the Supreme Court appointed Empowered Committee (EC) on Mullaperiyar, a close look at the report in whole, may point to the scope for realization of the avowed stance of the State, ‘Water for Tamil Nadu, Safety for Kerala’.

In fact, in spite of the criticism heaped on him by a section of the activists and politicians alike, the separate note by EC member Justice (Rtd.) K T Thomas, who was nominated by Kerala may hold key to further arguments on the report in the apex court, it is pointed out.

His dissenting note has two major parts, one dealing with the need to keep water level at 136 ft and the other on the recommendation for construction of a new tunnel at 50 ft. According to him, findings on the safety of the dam were not enough to permit the FRL to go beyond 136 ft.

Speaking to The Hindu, Justice Thomas said that the fixation of 136 ft. by Kerala State Legislature was in consideration of the needs of the State and also to relieve the people of Kerala living near the dam of their fear psyche and also for the welfare of people on both sides of the border. “The further proceedings will give the State the last chance to convince the SC that the Amendment to Dam Safety Act fixing up 136 ft as the FRL for Mullaperiyar dam was passed by a competent legislature and that there was no reason to strike it down.”

When the agreement was executed in 1886, the State of Travancore never needed any water which flowed into the dam for any purpose whatsoever. However, with the completion of Idukki Arch Dam, the major source of hydel power projects on which Kerala depends heavily for power requirements since 1970, the picture had changed. It was a geographical fact that the catchment areas of Idukki dam include the catchment areas of Mullaperiyar also. While the Idukki dam has a capacity of 75 TMC, the FRL in the dam has never gone above 54 TMC. If the FRL at Mullaperiyar is allowed to go beyond 136 that will adversely affect the water flow into Idukki and the reservoir of that would not get water even reach 54 TMC, he pointed out.

“There is no dispute that the primary ownership of the water flowing into Mullaperiyar vests with Kerala and it is only by virtue of the terms of the Agreement of 1886 that Tamil Nadu could use this water. It will thus be inequitable to inflict such a great damage to the water sources of Idukki dam for augmenting the water quantity in Mullaperiyar,” he said. Since power generation was not contemplated during the original agreement, the quantity of water stored beyond FRL of 136 ft in Mullapeiryar be allowed to flow into Idukki dam which would help the real owners of the water to use at least such excess portion for the benefit of the people of Kerala.

More importantly, he pointed out that raising the FRL beyond 136 ft would be against the Statute as the said limit was fixed by a statute passed by a competent State legislature. The mere fact that another State had challenged the validity of the legislation is not sufficient for the EC to ignore statutory injunction, his note said.

When the original lease agreement was signed in 1886, the only object considered for the construction of the dam was to supply water for irrigation to the lands located in the five districts of Tamil Nadu. The irrigation in those areas of land was comfortably carried on without raising the FRL beyond 136 ft. during the past many years.

According to him, the proposal for a new tunnel at the height 50 ft from the bottom, to be constructed by TN, would also open up new scope for further negotiations for bringing down the FRL as to enable Tamil Nadu to get the water which they presently claim (between 106 ft tunnel and 142 ft FRL) proportionately.” This would help us to bring down the FRL to, say, 100 ft to 125 ft, and also help TN to get water they require. This will help the excess water to flow into Idukki dam.

That technical parameters alone should not be considered for finding a final solution to the vexed issue has been accepted by the EC was evident from the decision to suggest to the SC, two alternatives to find an amicable resolution, he pointed out. As such, the question of the real outcome of the case rests with the way it will be handled in the coming days.

At some point in time, where water is diverted from it's original source, it needs to
be paid for and this will help in conserving this resource and utilizing it properly. If
TN needs the water, why not pay for it? Expecting things for free will not be the ideal
solution and at some point in time, when there is water shortage in Kerala, we will
need to relook at the existing contract, if not annule it and bring about a fresh
contract which is more equitable. Just as much as the supreme court says auction the
telecom airwaves, we should also look at paying for the water as well.

from:  Jacob
Posted on: May 8, 2012 at 17:11 IST

People of TN, see the comments being made by politicians from Karnataka, they are saying 'no water' to TN. Kerala is saying 'lots of water' to TN !

from:  Binoy
Posted on: May 7, 2012 at 17:09 IST

Most reasonable solution will be,

*a new dam owned & operated by kerala
* water distribution operated by a joint group of tamil nadu, kerala &
central govt
* Complete water for tamil nadu & local forest use.
*validity not for 999 years but for more (as long as there are rains)

We Keralaits understand the need of water for tamil nadu, so use all possible water sourcing points of kearla (during raining seasons) but
please don't claim ownership but lets live in brotherhood.

from:  Mano
Posted on: May 7, 2012 at 11:23 IST

Why should we tell lie. This is our resource and we using for our
propose and future. so we have full rights to use the water for our
purpose and control it for the safety of our people.

from:  RAKESH
Posted on: May 7, 2012 at 09:40 IST

Kerala govt,please be transparent and sincere in your needs. Dont
spread false propagandas and play with the peace and harmony of people.
The peace were completely disturbed at the borders during the
agitation. People were the mostly affected in both the states.

from:  Abbas
Posted on: May 7, 2012 at 06:23 IST

The fact of the matter is that Kerala wants to wrest control of the custodian rights from Tamilnadu. The ploy(safety) they employed to achieve it didn't materialize. Truth prevails.

from:  Rajan Das
Posted on: May 6, 2012 at 17:42 IST

Earlier Kerala Govt. and its protagonists were claiming that they needed
to build a new dam since the structure of the existing dam has outlived
its utility and consequently posing threat to its people living in downstream areas. When this lie was was nailed by Apex Court and their
true motive was revealed, they, now, claim that they need water for
generation of hydro power! Why this lie and canard?

from:  Mani
Posted on: May 5, 2012 at 22:37 IST
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