Panel to Ensure Dam Safety While Raising Storage Level

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NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday decided to constitute a supervisory committee on Mullaiperiyar dam to implement a Supreme Court judgment delivered in May, this year, allowing the Tamil Nadu government to raise the storage level to 142 feet much against Kerala’s stand over the century-old structure’s safety.

The approval for the constitution of a supervisory committee on the dam to implement the SC judgment dated May 7, 2014, came at a cabinet meet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

“The three-member supervisory committee will look into the issues concerning the safety of the dam and restoration of RFL to 142 feet,” a statement on the cabinet decision said.

The Supreme Court had held a law promulgated by the Kerala government that amended its Irrigation and Water Conservation Act in 2006 that held Mullaperiyar, a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River, as endangered as unconstitutional and struck it down. The court had also restrained Kerala from obstructing Tamil Nadu from raising the storage level.

The law enacted by Kerala was to set up a Dam Safety Authority to prevent Tamil Nadu from raising the water level in the 176-foot-high dam from the existing 136 feet to 142 feet.

Holding that the dam in Idduki district of Kerala was safe, the court had allowed Tamil Nadu to increase the storage level, first to 142 feet and after the completion of strengthening works to 152 feet. Kerala, which had been complaining that the 119-year-old dam was unsafe, and has decided to move the Supreme Court seeking a review of the May 7 order.

Kerala has also been claiming that the lives of nearly 40 lakh people in five downstream districts have to be taken into account while deciding on the dam’s height.

Though the dam was within Kerala, a 1886 deal between the British and the then Travancore King gave Tamil Nadu rights over the water reservoir for 999 years for drinking purposes and irrigation of nearly two lakh acres of land in the parched areas of south Tamil Nadu.

After seepage from the dam were noticed in 1979, Tamil Nadu had strengthened the dam, but Kerala continued to express fears over the safety of the dam. Kerala’s law on Mullaiperiyar’s unsafe status itself was a result of a 2006 Supreme Court order allowing Tamil Nadu to increase the dam level to 152 feet after strengthening the structure.

PWD Sends map of parking lot

Cumbum: Tamil Nadu Public Works Department officials have sent a map to the State government detailing the construction of a mega car parking lot undertaken by Kerala inside the Mullaiperiyar catchment area. Pointing out that the National Tiger Conservation Authority has sent a communication to the Kerala Government in 2012, an official said Kerala’s activity was a violation of rules.

 

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