Warn before opening Mullaperiyar dam, Kerala tells T.N.

A Congress protest at Vandiperiyar in Idukki against Mullaperiyar dam water release without warning. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday wrote to his Tamil Nadu counterpart, M.K. Stalin, urging him to ensure that shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam are opened “only after sufficient warnings” and “during daytime”.

Mr. Vijayan said he had received information that shutters V1 to V8 of the dam were opened at 3.30 a.m. on Thursday. “Sufficient warning was not given before substantial discharging of 6,413 cusecs which was subsequently increased to 8,017 cusecs at 4 a.m. by opening all the 10 shutters,” he said. The Kerala Chief Minister sought Mr. Stalin’s intervention so that anxiety and apprehensions of the people living downstream are put to rest.

He called for a planned and gradual release of water only during daytime instead of releasing it at night or early morning. “The Government of Kerala is of the considered opinion that Tamil Nadu should get adequate water while the safety of people in Kerala is ensured,” Mr. Vijayan said. He stressed the need for the neighbouring States to discuss and devise strategies to tackle the consequences of climate change impacting the lives and livelihood of the people.

Houses flooded

Earlier in the day, flooding was reported in the residential areas of Vallakadavu, Vandiperiyar, Chappathu and Upputhara following the “highest quantum” of water released into the Periyar this year.

Residents of Vallakadavu blocked a vehicle from which announcements were made about the opening of the dam after water was released. Congress workers and residents blocked the Kollam-Theni National Highway at Kakkikavala.

Sebastian, a resident, said water entered the houses unexpectedly in the wee hours. As it was a clear sky on Wednesday, no one expected that the dam would be opened. He said water began to recede by 10 a.m. after most shutters were closed.

The Chokkenpetty forest area bordering Tamil Nadu witnessed heavy rainfall on Wednesday night. The inflow, when the water level was close to the permitted maximum level of 142 ft, resulted in the sudden opening of the spillway shutters.

This was the fourth time in a month Tamil Nadu opened the spillway shutters after 10 p.m.

‘Norms violated’

Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine told The Hindu that a serious situation prevailed as the dam shutters were opened after midnight without giving time for informing the people. “The Tamil Nadu Government was also informed [on Tuesday last] that raising the shutters during night should be avoided to the maximum. Now it has violated all norms,” he alleged, adding it would be informed to the supervisory committee appointed by the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the Vaigai dam in Theni district of Tamil Nadu, where water from the Mullaperiyar was stored, was opened as the water level reached the maximum level of 71 ft. The 14 shutters remained open on Thursday, according to an official of the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department. Tamil Nadu can draw a maximum of 2,300 cusecs through tunnel discharge.

The water level in the Idukki reservoir was almost steady after the release of water from the Mullaperiyar dam. Power generation at the Moolamattom power house was at a high and there was no rain in the catchment area for the past three days. The water level at 4 p.m. was 2,400.50 ft, which is in the blue alert level.

(With inputs from Thiruvananthapuram bureau)

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 8:24:29 AM |

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