Water level in Kerala Sholayar reservoir not full

Kerala’s decision to approach the Supreme Court against Tamil Nadu for denying enough water for the Chitturpuzha irrigation scheme has not stopped its neighbouring State from committing another violation of the Parambikulam Aliyar Project agreement.

On February 1, the Kerala Sholayar reservoir will not have water to the full reservoir level of 2,663 feet, which the agreement enjoins Tamil Nadu to ensure. The water level is 2,646 feet, 17 feet below the full reservoir level.

On last September 1 also, Tamil Nadu committed the violation, with water six feet lower, officials of Joint Water Regulatory Board for implementing the agreement said here on Thursday.

The agreement stipulates full reservoir level on the two days. But Tamil Nadu has been honouring this condition more in its breach since 1970-71, data available with the Board show.

During the 41 years, Tamil Nadu has honoured the September 1 stipulation only 15 times and violated it 26 times. The full reservoir level had been ensured from 1977-78 to 1980-81.

Thereafter, it has been 10 years of violation. The full reservoir level had been maintained in 1991-92, 1993-94, 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11.

The February 1 stipulation has been violated more. In the 41 years, the full reservoir level has been maintained only six times — 1971-72, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, and 2011-12.

The full reservoir level on February 1 is crucial for Kerala, especially in a year of drought as this, as the State gets 5.42 tmcft of water for the lean months from February to May. The condition was made to compensate for the inter-basin diversion of the tributaries of Parambikulam, Peruvarippallom, Thunacadavu and Sholayar to the east, officials said.

The agreement says Tamil Nadu has to release 12.3 tmcft of water into the Kerala Sholayar reservoir every year for power generation, irrigation and drinking-water supply. As much as 7.25 tmcft of water has to be released at the Manacadavu weir for the Chitturpuzha irrigation scheme. This year, just 4.4 tmcft of water was released, affecting the standing paddy crop on 45,000 acres of land.

Between 1970-71 and 2006-07, Tamil Nadu violated the agreement 12 times by not providing enough water at the weir, Water Resources Department officials said.

Kerala has sought the release of 350 cusecs of water at the weir from February 1. But Tamil Nadu agreed to release only100 mcft for the first quarter of February, which will not save the crop, Agriculture Department officials here said.