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Updated: January 3, 2012 08:57 IST

New dam is the only solution, says Kerala

J. Venkatesan
Comment (27)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
The Mullaperiyar Dam.
The Hindu The Mullaperiyar Dam.

Kerala's offer is not bona fide: Tamil Nadu

Kerala on Monday asserted before the Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee that the “construction of a new dam is the only solution to the complex Mullaperiyar dam issue” and that it would give more water to Tamil Nadu.

Appearing for Kerala, senior counsel Rajeev Dhavan and counsel Mohan Katarki said: “If the new dam is feasible and the proposal of Kerala is found… reasonable by the Empowered Committee, there is no need for addressing the issue of safety of the old dam.”

Counsel submitted that the question whether the dam was safe or not could not be decided with certainty as there was no sign or scientific method. “The ownership of the new dam would vest with Kerala as it is funding the dam entirely from its pocket. However, the operation of the reservoir shall be by a joint committee of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.”

At this juncture, the panel, headed by the former Chief Justice of India, A.S. Anand, wanted to know whether an independent committee could be constituted to manage/regulate/operate the new dam. Both counsel for Kerala and Tamil Nadu said they would get instructions and file their response.

Kerala argued that it had the right to construct a new dam, and no clearance was required from the Centre. However, for obtaining statutory clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests, technical clearance from the Central Water Commission would become necessary. Hence, Kerala would approach the Commission for clearance of its detailed project report.

Kerala made it clear that it was open to any suggestion from Tamil Nadu with regard to the new dam. “Kerala would dig 21 new boreholes as suggested by the Geological Survey of India, and the results… would form part of the supplementary detailed project report. The entire water generated in the catchment area up to the new dam would be available to Tamil Nadu for diversion (20.5 TMC at 75 per cent dependability), except 1.1 TMC reserved by Kerala for meeting environmental flows in the summer months, which comes to hardly 5 per cent of the total flow. “The new dam would give more water to Tamil Nadu. At present, Tamil Nadu is drawing 17.7 TMC. The new dam would provide 20.5 TMC. The proposal of Kerala is bona fide. None should be happier than Tamil Nadu if the new dam is constructed. The new dam is part of precautionary principle.”

Tamil Nadu's Additional Advocate-General Guru Krishna Kumar and counsel G. Umpathy said in their response: “Kerala's offer of [a] new dam is not bona fide, and it is an attempt to defeat the existing regime. The existing dam, after the lowering of its height to 136 feet, has fully been strengthened and is as good as a new dam with a long life. The so-called offer of new dam was only made in 2007 in the written statement filed, and the… offer has to be considered only if the Empowered Committee/the Supreme Court finds the existing dam… unsafe.”

They submitted that Mullaperiyar, being a gravity dam, would never burst in the unlikely event of a severe earthquake; it would only develop cracks. Therefore, Kerala's apprehension was misplaced.

With regard to the Empowered Committee's question about joint management of a new dam built by Kerala or other alternatives and the assurance of water to Tamil Nadu, counsel said such issues did not warrant consideration when the dam was safe. The apprehension was really about the Idukki dam component, but was being covered up through doubts raised about the Mullaperiyar dam.

Counsel said Kerala's insistence on maintaining the water level at 136 feet was only to protect the settlements/encroachments on the water spread upstream the dam, in light of evidence that new settlements and activities had developed since the water level was lowered in 1979.

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After going through the comments,I am sure that all agree that since Mullaperiyar dam cannot be safe for decades to come as its life span is over and someday or the other it has to be decommissioned for good.Since Kerala is proposing a New dam with exactly same characteristics as the original dam with the same bed levels,Full Reservoir Levels[FRL] and Maximum water Levels[MWL]Tamilnadu can draw water from the Reservoir Level of not 120 ft. and not 136 ft.,not 142 ft.,but from 152 ft.,also and thereby Tamilnadu gets 23TMC water per year.The reservoir can be filled not once but twice a year.More water can be obtained by cloud seeding by following the procedures successfully followed in Tasmania and China to augment annual rainfall by 25% and hence both states can get more water than that presently drawn from the damAs suggested by prof.T.Shivaji rao,an expert in both irrigation and Environmental fields,Union Government must constitute a corporation on trhe lines of the Tehri Dam

from:  Ms.Subhashini
Posted on: Jan 6, 2012 at 17:39 IST

Natural calamities cannot be predicted accurately by any scientists in the world. One big earth quake and the dam will be finished. Tamil nadu will lose nothing but it is kerala's loss of human lives and property. Earth quake zones never remain constant. Better do something before any calamity takes place. Tamil nadu will only shed crocodile tears after the mammoth destruction.

from:  MK
Posted on: Jan 6, 2012 at 13:50 IST

why don't Tamil Nadu make another storage facility in their own territory for their own usage. they can divert the water from mullaperiyar and store in their land so that the fears of people downstream the dam can avoid.

from:  rajesh
Posted on: Jan 4, 2012 at 13:33 IST

I can foresee two options to Mulaiperiyaaru issue. Borders between
states are artificially created after independence from GB, therefore
(1) Hold a binding referendum in the troubled areas ( e.g. Iddukki
district), and if necessary re-draw the border between States. (2) Or
Nationalize all water resources and Centre manages them to benefit the
whole India. Fighting for water is becoming more distraction, and huge
impediment to national growth.

from:  Suresh M
Posted on: Jan 4, 2012 at 00:21 IST

It appears that once again, some people seem to have misgivings about water seepage in dams. Every dam anywhere in the world develops cracks and allows for water seepage and leakage in the design. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, and has no bearing on the strength of the dam against the pressure of the water it holds. This is factored for in the design and many conduits are provided for this water to join the downstream flow. Gravity dams will not burst because by design, the entire structure will have to be toppled over by the water because of the mass of the dam that more than counters the mass and pressure of water being held.

from:  B S Kumar
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 22:31 IST

Dipu Joy: No talks are possible if one party enters the meetings with a decision. Being a neutral, I look at KL's stand as more adamant. Why would someone want to shout "New Dam" even after SC rules that the dam is safe? And can you please point out how you arrived at 30 - 35 lakhs as the estimated figure? To me atleast, the solution seems simple. We need a new state merging both TN & KL and then things will take care of themselves.

from:  Jerald
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 18:54 IST

Some people are confusing the Kudankulam issue with Mullaperiyar. Kudankulam is totally different from the dam issue. It is a nuclear reactor which may pollute the environmental and cause diseases like cancer etc. for generations. That is why the people are afraid of this. Kerala govt. is in the thought of building a new dam, to exhaust the ‘999 agreement’ and to create a new agreement between Kerala and Tamilnadu. If so, they could occupy the ring master post. Let us leave it for the final decision of the Empowered Committee constituted by the Hon’ble SC.

from:  P. Sukumar
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 17:45 IST

Tamil Nadu, in comparison to Kerala is more advanced in terms of its Infrastructure. Still the TN Government is struggling to have a proper disaster management in place in the aftermath of Thane Cyclone. Just imagine, how big would be a disaster in Kerala if the Dam breaks. 30 - 35 Lakhs is the estimated figure. The Kerala Sate government would be crippled in such situations. To avoid such disaster to hit the Brethren Kearlites, all people of Tamil Nadu should persuade the TN Government to rethink and allow to built the New Dam.

from:  Dipu Joy
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 15:54 IST

Two protest, one in Tamil Nadu against Kudamkulam Nuclear Plant, for fear of a perceived Nuclear Disaster. Another in Kerala, for fear of a perceived Dam Burst. Both are protest on fear that the impending disaster would happen. If Kudamkulam is justified, Kerala is well with in its right to demand its rights/safety. The Best solution is to Alleviate the fear of the Public by independent,transparent and scientific research on both the issues and brave enough to take a decision based on that, and co-cooperate between the neighbours,rather than sorting to cheap political gimmicks, one sided statements like this and economic blockade from both side.

from:  Deep
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 12:38 IST

Only solution is to merge the two states into one entity. Then TN will have no problem in building a new dam. Their objection is not because of the fear of not getting continued water supply if a new dam is built , but in continuing with the terms of the one-sided and force-upon by Britishers (hence null and void) agreement which makes them eligible to get water virtualy FREE.

from:  KVSKumar
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 12:37 IST

Since there is a credibility problem of the current commission, there is no point in persevering with it and wasting the money. The first part of such an adventure is to get agreement from both parties about the content and composition of a commission. Once that is achieved, the verdict must be acceptable. An MOU in regards to acceptance of such a report would stop politics and 'sour grapes' after the report. An alternative solution is to get a foreign company in the business of such assessments. Their reputation and damages causing a lot of millions, if the assessment was poor, would provide with a reliable report.

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 12:18 IST


When Kerala offers water to Tamilnadu as before and taking care of the expense for building a new Dam in place of Dam of more than 100 years, what is paining in the back of Tamilnadu? Tamilnadu is acting against the safety of people of Kerala.

from:  Muru
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 12:17 IST

kerala & Tamil Nadu: - Mullaperiyar Water, - Neyyar dam water to Kanyakumari branch channel.
Andhra & Tamil Nadu: - Palar Water
karnataka & Tamil Nadu: - Cauvery water
Be Indian’s, please remember due to above water Issue's the community is disturbed and the developments or growth of our nation is being affected.Please Think!

from:  CK VKC
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 12:10 IST

First of all Tamilnadu should understand this is a river which originate flow and ends up in the coastline of Kerala. The dam is full of cracks that is exactly the reason why Tamilnadu is refusing to allow the reduce the water level as it will expose the cracks. Kerala is ready for an independent evaluation of the dam's conditiion by any independent agency. Why isnt the center taking steps to do so. I think the Tamilnadu government is just waiting for a huge disaster to happen to take any action. If something happens the aftermath will be a huge bloodshed for which only Tamilnadu will be responsible.

from:  Priyakumar
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 11:14 IST

In my view the supreme court verdit should make both TN and Kerala abide.I also feel the, kerala is spreading fear psychosis amongst their people. All along they were saying, safety of keralites is prime hence new dam. once, if TN agrees for new dam we can see the true colours of kerala in terms of money , pwer and others.
If we see the genisis of this problem, everthing started that a dam which was constructed in kerala only to feed tamil nadu and that to all the control with TN, which kerala could not digest.

from:  Rameshkumar
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 10:26 IST

Why cannot the govt. of TM understand the constant fear of people who are living near this "great great nanny dam?" If they were asked to live in such a dangerous place, will they live there with their family? They have to understand the situation in a humanly manner. A new dam is the only solution that they will understand sooner or later.

from:  Jestin
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 10:21 IST

And the two states are part of India? Amazing !!

from:  Prakash
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 09:54 IST

Is there no transparent method of making a technical evaluation regarding the strength of the dam?? What is the supreme court doing?? Why cant one neutral commission be there? The economic blockade being put up by (some in) tamil nadu should do good for kerala in the long term as it will make the keralites think of alternate solutions for its internal production related issues in a realistic manner. A sleeping keralite needs such wake up calls. Afterall it is challenges that make a community resilient.

from:  T Rajkumar
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 08:53 IST

"Counsel said Kerala's insistence on maintaining the water level at
136 feet was only to protect the settlements/encroachments on the
water spread upstream the dam, in light of evidence that new
settlements and activities had developed since the water level was
lowered in 1979.".....
This is the real issue. When water is raised all those areas
encroached by influential persons will get submerged. Idukki district
is famous for Ganja fields. It could be that many ganja fields also
may be lost. It is this fear of losing the milch cow of ganja trade
which is worrying the politicians.

from:  V.K. Guptan
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 08:48 IST

Why is Tamil Nadu opposing the new dam eventhough Kerala has assured that Tamil Nadu would benefit by receiving water in larger quantities?

from:  Mohan
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 07:44 IST

Prevention is better than cure. People can actually see water pouring through the dam, there are big holes in the dam in many places, the dam has developed cracks. All this indicates that the dam needs to be either beefed up or a new dam should be made. But the Government of Tamil Nadu says that the dam is still strong enough to hold water for another 100 years and it is a political move to counter the development of TN, as it will lead to loss or scarcity of water in TN. This is a complicated and a delicate issue, whatever needs to be done should be done quickly, as a wrong decision can cost thousands of life and millions of dollars of property.

from:  AIman Reyaz
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 07:44 IST

What is the guarantee that a new dam in that area will not be affected by earthquake?

from:  Gnanam
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 07:41 IST

This can be considered as a further step forward to compromise the flare up of unfriendly incidents.

from:  Sivakumar Viswanathasarma
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 07:40 IST

'New dam is the only solution'??... No... Nationalising them would be the only solution, it would save the money, energy, time wasted, and of course people of the country as a whole. There may be arguments against, stating states right and states interest.The simple answer would be, if you don't believe a national government to work for the rights and interests of its states and its people,then who else??

from:  Jaya Prakash
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 07:35 IST

The Supreme court must stop hearing the arguments of Kerala and Tamil nadu till such time the Empowered Committee submit its report to the Supreme Court . Right now the distressing factor is Kerala Government is not giving any cooperation to the Empowered Team, it is doubtful whether they will abide by the Empowered Committee Report. Kerala is sticking to its stand of making a new dam. As a peace loving citizen of this country I wish both the Governments adopt a give and take policy and allow us to live in harmony and peace.

from:  C S Sivakumar
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 07:06 IST

The insistence by the Kerela Govt. for a New Dam apeears to me to be rather bizarre. There is obviously some ulterior motive. To allay the fears of the Kerala Govt., the Dam can be strengthened, which in my opinion is feasible.This will also help increase the storage capacity of the Dam. The attendant environmental problems should be addressed simultaneously.

from:  Prof. P. S. Mani Sundaram
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 06:12 IST

Kerala is right in saying that in order to pro vide safety to lakhs keralites due to a potential Dam burst due to aging their view is correct since any amount of strenghening measures cannot ensure impending collapse of the existing Dam.Kerala must clarify whether their promise of maintaining the Water Level at 136 ft.height,they did not specify whether such level refers to exiasting dam which means keeping the Full Resrvoir Level at an elevatrion of 3025 feet above Mean Sea Level which should be acceptable to all or it is only 136 ft.with reference to the new site which is at 2230 ft.MSL according to Tamilian farmers or 2790 ft.MSL as per independent experts..Existing Dam need not be disturbed as also the existing agreement conditions.Tehri Dam was constructed as Rock-filled Dam with a height of 260 meters to store 125 TMC of Ganga waters while Koteswar Dam 20km.below was built as concrete Dam with a height of 103.5 meters in similar tri-angular river basin in the rocky Himalayas

from:  T.Shivaji Rao
Posted on: Jan 3, 2012 at 05:50 IST
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