G. Prabhakaran

Tamil Nadu refuses to release water to meet FRL

As per pact FRL is to be maintained on February 1

If not, Chalakudy basin will face water shortage

PALAKKAD: With the Tamil Nadu government refusing to release any more water to Kerala Sholayar this water year, it is clear that the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project (PAP) agreement of maintaining full reservoir level (FRL) of Kerala Sholayar on February 1 will not be fulfilled this time.

Tamil Nadu had maintained the FRL condition of Kerala Sholayar — 2,663 feet — only once, in 1972, during the 1970-2004 period. But a tough stand by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) ensured FRL in 2005 and 2006.

As per the PAP agreement, the water level at Kerala Sholayar has to be kept at 2,658 feet between September 2 and January 31. But, from December 31, 2007 the water level has fallen below 2,658 feet, due to the non-release of water from Tamil Nadu Sholayar. Repeated requests from the Water Resources Department of Kerala and the KSEB were turned down by Tamil Nadu, KSEB sources said.

The water level of Kerala Sholayar on January 23, 2008 is only 2,652.8 feet and to fill the reservoir on February 1, around 1.4 tmc is required. Water is now being released from Kerala Sholayar to the Chalakudy river to meet irrigation needs. So, it is expected that the water level will fall further to around 2,648 feet, on February 1 —15 feet below FRL.

Last year’s case

On February 1, 2007, due to some technical problems at the Tamil Nadu Sholayar power house, water level could be maintained only at 2658.4 feet. But, the required water for FRL was released by Tamil Nadu in February first week itself.

A full Kerala Sholayar reservoir is essential to meet the summer demands of the Chalakudy river basin and it is an important condition of the PAP agreement.

Now, with Tamil Nadu adopting this stance, crisis looms over the Chalakudy river basin. Water release from Tamil Nadu Sholayar Power House No. 2 to Kerala Sholayar stopped from November 7, 2007.

Even though they promised to release 200 mcft during a meeting at Coimbatore on December 3, 2007, that commitment has not been honoured. Water was released for four days from December 7, 2007, but was abruptly stopped.

Neighbour’s version

During the current water year, Tamil Nadu released much water to the Kerala Sholayar reservoir during the monsoon, thereby forcing Kerala to operate its power house at full throttle to avoid spilling. Authorities here failed to address this problem during monsoon. The issue was raised at the last Joint Water Regulatory Board (JWRB) meeting on December 3, 2007, after both monsoons were over. Tamil Nadu now argues that it has already provided the promised quantity and so maintenance of levels is not possible.

This water year, Sholayar basin yielded 22 tmc of water instead of the anticipated 14.8 tmc and Tamil Nadu got a share of 8.5 tmc instead of 2.5 tmc estimated while framing the PAP agreement.

A strong demand has cropped up for an upward revision of the annual entitlement to the Chalakudy river basin under the PAP pact since 12.3 tmc is not sufficient to meet its existing and future demands. Officials of the Water Resources Department say that political intervention is essential for addressing this issue.