Tamil Nadu has turned down Kerala’s call for lowering the water level of the Mullaperiyar dam to 136 ft. It has, instead, sought cooperation of the neighbouring State to store water up to 142 ft.
Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam, in a reply written on Sunday to his Kerala counterpart Oommen Chandy, stated the operation of the Mullaperiyar reservoir was managed in such a way “to obtain optimum utilisation of the available water,” considering the probable monsoon rainfall and the need. “The Government of Kerala cannot interfere with the regulation of flows from the Mullaperiyar Dam,” he said.
He also referred to the Tami Nadu government’s reply sent on November 1 to the Kerala government wherein it was stated that the dam was “structurally, hydrologically and seismically safe,” to store water up to 142 ft. for the time being and also that the contention of Kerala to restrict the storage to 136 ft. was against the judgment of the Supreme Court of May this year which permitted Tamil Nadu to store water up to 142 ft initially.
Mr Panneerselvam recalled that the Supervisory Committee, constituted by the Supreme Court, in its meeting on November 3, decided that “there is apparently no immediate justification to open the gates.”
On the impact of reduction in storage of the Mullaperiyar dam between November 1979 and May 2014, he said the Tamil Nadu government could not utilise a quantity of about 26.23 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft), creating “undue hardship” to farmers of five southern districts in Tamil Nadu. Prior to 1979, the combined live capacity of the Mullaperiyar and Vaigai reservoirs was 16.31 tmc ft and it was later reduced to 11.85 tmc ft. “This is being partially restored to 13.41 TMC ft. when the water level is kept at 142 ft.” he said, citing the Court’s judgments in February 2006 and May 2014.
Pointing out that the increase in the storage of the Mullaperiyar dam from June 2014 was ”gradual and steady,” not sudden, the Chief Minister said the rainfall in the catchment was also “not heavy.”