Safety call

Expert committee set for Mullaperiyar dam

 
By T V Jayan
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- at a hearing on November 10, 2005, the Supreme Court (sc) suggested that an expert committee be set up to probe technical and safety issues relating to the height of the Mullaperiyar dam -- the subject of a 25-year long dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu (tn).

A three-member division bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and justices C K Thakker and P K Balasubramanyan, put forward the suggestion to the counsels of the tn and Kerala governments.

Though the dam is situated inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala, it does not get to use the waters which had been leased out to tn for 999 years in 1886 during colonial rule. Though the deal was revalidated in 1970 by an inter-state agreement, Kerala once again failed to protect its interests (see 'Water war', Down To Earth, November 30, 2001).

Increasing the water level in the dam has been a controversial issue. tn wants the water level in the reservoir of the dam to be increased to 43.28 metres. Kerala feels it would be dangerous for the safety of the dam, which has been leaking since 1930. tn also argues that this decision was as per the Central Water Commission's recommendations. The commission suggested that the water level could be increased to 43.28 metres once measures to strengthen the dam are taken. However, Kerala counters saying the reservoir height cannot be increased as it falls within a seismic area and will submerge around 1,620 hectares of forestland in the Periyar sanctuary.

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