The Empowered Committee (EC), headed by the former Chief Justice of India, A.S. Anand, on Tuesday rejected the Kerala government's plea for a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to lower the storage level in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 ft. to120 ft. till a new dam is constructed in the area.
The EC, in its order, drew Kerala's attention to the order for status quo passed by the Supreme Court in the suit filed by Tamil Nadu (to maintain the water level at 136 ft.) and said Kerala's plea could not be considered by the committee.
Kerala said the 25 tremors in the vicinity of the dam recently had threatened the structure, causing serious concern to the 50-lakh people living downstream.
The Centre for Earth Science Studies had stated that if there was a tremor of magnitude 6 or more, the dam would collapse, it said. The fear was heightened by incessant rain in the catchment area, taking the storage level beyond 136 ft.
Kerala pointed out that on November 10, 2009, when the Supreme Court directed Tamil Nadu to maintain status quo, the water level in the dam was 131.8 ft. and storage beyond this was a violation of the Supreme Court's status quo order.
“Reduction in water level from 136 ft. to 120 ft. had become absolutely necessary in the light of recent developments,” it said.
“The storage could be reduced by diversion through a tunnel by Tamil Nadu and siphoning the water downstream.”
Tamil Nadu had refuted Kerala's stand and reiterated that the dam was safe and that it had been permitted by the Supreme Court to raise the water level up to 142 ft. and further to 152 ft. after completing the remaining strengthening measures.