The over-a-century-old Mullaperiyar dam has been chosen to receive the ‘Best Maintained Dam’ award for 2012-13. The award has been instituted by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to give a fillip for maintaining the dams in good condition, said the Public Works Minister, K. V. Ramalingam, in the Assembly on Thursday.
[According to an official of the PWD, the award carries a cash prize of Rs 10, 000 each to the Assistant Engineer, Assistant Executive Engineer and Executive Engineer, besides a certificate of commendation to Superintending Engineer and Chief Engineer].
Mr. Ramalingam, replying to a debate on demand for grants for his department, assured that the State government would effectively pursue the Mullaperiyar issue to safeguard the interests of Tamil Nadu when the case came up for final arguments in the Supreme Court on July 23. The Minister listed various efforts of the government to restore the level of the dam from 136 feet to 152 feet and said that after the apex court allowed Tamil Nadu, in its order of July 23, 2012, to carry out routine maintenance works, re-laying of wearing coat on the Baby Dam and reaming the drainage holes had been completed.
The other maintenance works in the dam would be taken up in the ensuing non-irrigation season.
Responding to a plea from the Congress member, S. John Jacob, for water release from the Neyyar dam to Vilavancode taluk in Kanyakumari district, the Minister informed that as per the direction of the Chief Minister, talks would soon be held with the Kerala government over this issue. Tamil Nadu filed a suit in the Supreme Court on May 30, 2012, seeking a direction to Kerala to release water from the Neyyar dam.
Water supply from the Neyyar dam through Left Bank Canal had been stopped by Kerala since February 2004. The neighbouring State contended that Neyyar was not an inter-State river and hence, there was no need for an agreement on water sharing.
However, Tamil Nadu had established through investigation and from the topo sheets of the Government of India that a portion of the catchment of the river (12.90 square km) in the head reaches was in its territory, the Minister said.
Mr. Ramalingam said that the Chief Minister had decided to execute the Rs 250 crore scheme to link Pennar and Palar (from Sathanur dam) with the State’s own funds as there was delay in getting central assistance for such projects.
The project envisages construction of a head sluice and link canal at the full water level of Sathanur dam and diversion of 5.69 tmc of surplus flood water into Cheyyar, a tributary of Palar. The Minister said that the link project would benefit 46, 069 acres of ayacut in Tiruvannamalai and Villupuram districts.
In principle sanction had been accorded for the Pennar-Palar link project from Nedungal dam for which the National Water Development Agency had undertaken an exhaustive study.