TN released Mullaperiyar water without warning: Kerala

A swollen Periyar flows through Vallakadavu, downstream of the Mullaperiyar dam, after its shutters were opened on November 30, 2021 when the water level reached 142 feet. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Residents of towns and villages downstream of the Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala were caught unawares early on Tuesday as over 5,000 cusecs of water was released into the Periyar river from the reservoir, which reached the upper rule level of 142 ft at midnight.

Kerala has accused Tamil Nadu of releasing water at odd hours without sufficient warning. The dam in Idukki district of Kerala is under the control of the Tamil Nadu government.

Explained | What is the controversy over Mullaperiyar?

Nine shutters raised

Nine of the 13 spillway shutters of the dam were raised from 2.30 a.m. to 8 a.m. releasing 5,961.16 cusecs, into the Periyar, the highest volume of water discharged so far this year.

Following the heavy rainfall on the catchment area, the dam level rose to 141.90 ft at 9 p.m. on Monday. The water reached the upper rule level of 142 ft at midnight and Tamil Nadu opened two spillway shutters to 30 cm each at 3 a.m. At 4 a.m., two more shutters were also opened and another three shutters at 5.30 a.m., 6 a.m. and 7 a.m respectively. At 7.30 a.m. two more shutters were opened and at 8 a.m. three shutters were raised to 60 cm each.

Kerala Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine said releasing large quantities of surplus water during the late hours could hit rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

According to sources, this was the third time this year that Tamil Nadu opened the spillway shutters after 10 p.m. The main towns affected in the flood included Vallakadavu, Vandiperiyar, Chappathu and Upputhara.

Water level reached the 142-foot mark in Mullaperiyar dam at Thekkady in Kerala on November 30, 2021. Photo: Special Arrangement

Water level reached the 142-foot mark in Mullaperiyar dam at Thekkady in Kerala on November 30, 2021. Photo: Special Arrangement  


Also read | Water level at Mullaperiyar dam touches 142 feet, fourth time since 2014

The water in the river rose around three feet and the level recorded at Vandiperiyar flood monitoring station rose to 794.05 metres, only 15 cm lower than the ‘warning level’. Though there was no cause for concern presently, the State Government will formally convey its protest in this regard to the Central Water Commission, the chairman of the Supervisory Committee as well as the Tamil Nadu Government to avoid such a scenario in future, Mr. Augustine said.

The Minister said a control room has been operationalised at Peermade. The villages of Peermade, Kumily, Manjumala and Periyar have been put on alert.

In addition to a police team led by the Peermade Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP), three units of the Kerala Fire and Rescue Services and one of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been kept on high alert, he added.

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“We had requested the Tamil Nadu Government to plan such operations such as the release of water from the reservoir well in advance at daytime whenever the water level neared 142 ft. The various complexities associated with undertaking disaster mitigation efforts during the late hours cannot be ignored,” he said.

Besides, the Tamil Nadu Government must also consider maintaining a considerable discharge through the tunnels all throughout the day in anticipation of rainfall during daytime. The suspension of tunnel discharge on Sunday had contributed to the rise in water level in the Mullaperiyar dam, he said.

Insisting that the State accorded utmost priority to maintaining a cordial relationship with Tamil Nadu, Mr. Augustine said the concerns raised by the Government were valid.

Also read | Mullaperiyar dam a water bomb: M.M. Mani

Reiterating the State’s policy of ‘water for Tamil Nadu and safety for Kerala’, the Minister said the Government would continue its efforts to construct a new dam in place of the existing one at Mullaperiyar.

Later in the day, water release was reduced progressively, with only two shutters remaining raised to 30 cm each at 6 p.m as the dam level came down to 141.95 ft. At 6 p.m, the inflow was 5,345 cusecs while the tunnel discharge was around 2,300 cusecs and release to the Periyar was 3,043 cusecs.

Tamil Nadu Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan on Tuesday said the State would take all efforts to strengthen the Mullaperiyar dam after discussing with Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.

In a statement, Mr. Duraimurugan said as per the Supreme Court direction, once the dam strengthening work is completed, the water level in the dam could be increased to 152 feet. “Though there are certain obstacles to this work, all efforts will taken to undertake them,” he said.

On Tuesday, the water level in the dam touched 142 feet, the permissible limit at present, the fourth time since 2014, he said.

(with inputs from Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai)

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 4:53:24 AM |

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