The troubled waters around Mullaperiyar: a ready reckonerDecember 7th, 2011 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS
Chennai/Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 7 (IANS) A raging dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is in the national spotlight with the two chief ministers seeking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to resolve it. A ready reckoner of a dispute that has polarised the two southern states with Kerala demanding a new dam and Tamil Nadu saying it is not necessary.
Mullaperiyar, in Kerala’s Idukki district, was constructed in 1895 by the king of Travancore under an accord with the British government.
Under the accord, the 8,000-acre dam area was leased to Madras presidency (which later became Tamil Nadu) for 999 years. The accord mandated that the water from the dam would be supplied for drinking and irrigation.
The dam is vital for people living in the drought-prone districts of Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivagangai and Ramanathapuram of Tamil Nadu. It irrigates about 220,000 acres and supplies drinking water to Madurai city and several towns.
Kerala, which was formed in 1956 from Madras, has for the past three decades been complaining that the dam built with old technology and material is unsafe and can collapse, endangering the lives of 3.5 million people in five districts.
The Kerala government and activists say 22 minor earthquakes have been recorded since July in the region and this has increased the chances of collapse of the dam.
Tamil Nadu says there have been only four quakes and even those were away from the dam area. It says the dam is safe as it had undergone periodical repairs during 1980-1994 with the approval of the Kerala government. A central government appointed expert committee in 2001 had declared the dam safe.
Kerala wants the height to be lowered to 120 feet in view of the weakness of the dam.
Tamil Nadu wants storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height from the present 136 feet to 142 feet as the state’s irrigation needs have shot up.
All political parties in Kerala, including the Congress, are vocal in their demand for a new dam.
In Tamil Nadu, the ruling AIADMK and the opposition DMK are united in opposing a new dam.
The dispute is being heard by the Supreme Court. In 2006, it approved the expert panel report of 2001 that the dam was safe and allowed gradual increase in the water level - first to 142 feet and then to 156 feet.
In January 2010, the court appointed a five-member empowered committee, headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice A.S. Anand to give a report that is awaited.
- A special session of the Kerala assembly is scheduled for Dec 9 where a resolution to lower the water level to 120 feet from the prevailing 136 feet is likely to be approved.
- The union water resources ministry has convened a meeting of officials of Kerala and Tamil Nadu at the initiative of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. If successful, the prime minister may call a meeting of the chief ministers of the two states.
- The Supreme Court committee will visit the dam site this month end. It will hold hearing of the two states Jan 2-3 next year.
- Persuading Tamil Nadu, Kerala on Mullaperiyar: PM - Dec 17, 2011
- New Mullaperiyar Dam will be a reality: Chandy - Jan 04, 2012
- Don't allow release of 'Dam 999', demands Karunanidhi - Nov 24, 2011
- DMK demands all-party meet on Mullaperiyar Dam - Dec 09, 2011
- Kerala acting against constitution on Mullaperiyar: Tamil Nadu - Feb 05, 2011
- PM calls for restraint on Mullaperiyar Dam issue - Dec 14, 2011
- Kerala wants national parties' clear stand on Mullaperiyar - Nov 25, 2011
- Kerala again speaks of new Mullaperiyar dam - Jan 03, 2012
- Tamil Nadu bans screening of 'Dam 999' - Nov 24, 2011
- Slight tremors in Kerala's Idukki district - Nov 26, 2011
- 'Tamil Nadu will send police to protect Mullaperiyar' - May 27, 2012
- Dam row: Chandy in Delhi Thursday, likely to meet PM - Dec 01, 2011
- Kerala, Tamil Nadu officials to discuss Mullaperiyar dam - Dec 05, 2011
- Kerala scheming to convert Tamil Nadu into a desert: Karunanidhi - Dec 12, 2011
- Team for Mullaperiyar Dam contingency plan on hold - Dec 27, 2011
Tags: chief ministers, contentions, dam area, dindigul, expert committee, irri, kerala government, manmohan, manmohan singh, minor earthquakes, national spotlight, new dam, old technology, prime minister manmohan, prime minister manmohan singh, ramanathapuram, ready reckoner, storage capacity, three decades, travancore