From the archives: Strengthen Mullaperiyar Dam: Kerala Writes to Centre

This article appeared in The Hindu on Oct. 24, 1979

Updated - November 17, 2021 12:14 am IST

Published - May 07, 2014 05:46 pm IST

TRIVANDRUM: The Kerala Chief Minister. Mr.C. H. Mohammed Koya informed the State Assembly on Tuesday that he had sent a letter to the UnionAgriculture and Irrigation Minister on October 17 requesting him to direct the Central Water and Power Commission and the Tamil Nadu Government to take immediate steps for strengthening the Mallaperiyar Dam (Thekkady dam) in Kerala territory and under the control of the Tamil Nadu Government.

On the same day, he had sent a similar letter to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister also drawing his urgent attention to this matter.

The Chief Minister was replying to a calling attention motion raised by Mr. P. C. Joseph (Kerala Congress-Mani group) on the condition of the dam. Mr. Joseph said the dam was in a dangerous condition and if it cracked, it would result in great havoc for the entire district. The disaster might perhaps be more than what they witnessed in the Morvi tragedy. He wanted the Government to take up this issue with the Centre and the Tamil Nadu Government.

The Chief Minister said the Mullaperiyar Dam (Periyar Dam) was constructed in 1897 on the basis of an agreement entered into by the then Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State of India on October 29. 1886. The dam is 1,241 feet long and the maximum height from the river bed is 158 feet. The capacity of the reservoir is 15.662 million cubic feet. The dam is situated 55 kms. upstream from the present Idukki Dam. There is no record with the Government to show that the life of the dam is 50 years as reported in a section of the press.

In 1972 and 1973, samples were collected from the dam to test its strength. Though some discussion was planned by the Central Water and Power Commission in 1976, it did not come off On May 9, 1978, Mr. A. N. Harkouli, Member of the Commission, Mr. A. K.Pal, Director in the Commission,the Chief Engineers ofKerala and Tamil Nadu and other officials concerned examined the dam.

The Tamil Nadu Government was asked by the Commission on May 19, 1978, to furnish more information about the dam with a view to considering the steps to be taken for strengthening the dam. The Commission also directed that the water level in the reservoir should be kept at 145 feet, and if the level rose beyond two feet, it should be brought down to 145 feet within 24 hours.

On June 13, 1979, the Kerala Government again brought the issue to the notice of the Commission, and the latter replied saying the views of the Tamil Nadu Government had not been received. A subsequent letter to the Commission by the Kerala Government on July 18, 1979 also brought the same reply from the

Commission on August 4, 1979.

Later, the Chief Secretary to Kerala Government also sent a letter to the Chairman of the Central Water and Power Commission on September 27, pointing out all details and urging him to take immediate steps for strengthening the dam.

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