Recurrence of tremors causes concern over Mullaperiyar dam

The spillway of the Mullaperiyar dam. File photo

The spillway of the Mullaperiyar dam. File photo   | Photo Credit: Johney Thomas

Recurrence of mild tremors in Idukki district in Kerala is causing concern over the safety of the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam, located on the borders with Tamil Nadu.

As many as 22 mild tremors and after-vibrations have occurred in parts of Idukki and adjoining Kottayam and Pathanamthitta districts since January this year, officials said.

Two brief spells of quakes measuring 2.02 and 3.04 on the Richter scale gently shook the area including the dam site on Friday last. The officials in charge of the reservoir spotted two minor cracks on it bottom, believed to have been caused by the latest tremor.

Taking a serious note of the development, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has sent Revenue Minister Thiruvananchur Radhakrishnan with a team of engineers, scientists and disaster management experts to the area to review the situation and suggest urgent steps, if any required, to allay fear of the locals.

Mullaperiyar dam was built when this part of Kerala was part of the Travancore princely state and Tamil Nadu under the Madras province under the British rule.

The dam has since then been a major source irrigation for the agricultural belt of central Tamil Nadu districts.

For the past two decades however, the dam has been a subject of hot dispute between the neighbouring states.

While Kerala wants to decommission the structure and build a new one, that idea has not found favour with Tamil Nadu.

Apart from local resistance groups, political parties on both sides have often taken aggressive postures on the issue.

In 2006, Kerala government passed the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act 2006, which prohibited the raising of water level beyond 136 ft in the Mulla Periyar Dam as it was placed under the Schedule of ‘Endangered Dams’.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 12:23:23 PM |

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