The safety of the Mullaperiyar dam has been a concern for long

The safety of the Mullaperiyar dam in Idukki district of Kerala has been a concern for the state for long. Even as early as 1979, the then Chief Minister C H Mohammed Koya had told reporters that the state government was aware of the need to strengthen the Mullaperiyar dam at Thekkady at that time under the administrative control of the Tamil Nadu government. The CM's response came when he was quizzed about the chance of a Morvi-type (In 1979, Morvi, a town in Gujarat was flooded because of the collapse of a dam on Machchu river) tragedy happening to the Mullaperiyar dam, which was built in 1895. The matter has been the subject of many letters exchanged between the Central Water and Power Commission and Kerala from the mid-sixties.

In October 1979, Mr. Koya told the State Assembly that he had written to the Union Agriculture and Irrigation Minister to direct the Central Water and Power Commission and the Tamil Nadu government to take steps to strengthen the Mullaperiyar dam. The Commission had directed the Tamil Nadu Government to keep the water level in the reservoir at 145 feet and "if the level rose beyond two feet, it should be brought down to 145 feet within 24 hours".

While ruling out any ïmminent danger "to the dam, a spokesperson of the Union Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry had pointed out that "while designing the Periyar dam, the conventional uplift forces had not been taken into account resulting in some tension under full reservoir conditions".

Quibble over "seepage"and "Leakage"

The cause of apprehension among some sections is because of the perception regarding seepage and leakage, as per a report published in this paper during the late seventies.

Under modern building conditions, dams are provided with seepage galleries within, where the seepage is pumped out after testing. But in the Periyar dam, the seepage is visible and hence the anxiety.

(Exclusive from The Hindu Online).

Links from the archives:

Safety of Dam at Thekkady

No Imminent Danger to Periyar Dam

Strengthen Mullaperiyar Dam: Kerala Writes to Centre

Editorial: Where Dams are Most Needed