Kerala bats for new dam at Mullaperiyar

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    • The Kerala government made a strong pitch in the Supreme Court to decommission the 126-year-old deteriorated Mullaperiyar dam operated by Tamil Nadu and built a new one.
      • Saying climate change, erratic and heavy rainfall and floods make the spectre of catastrophe real and near.

    Issues with the dam

    • The ageing dam is situated in the Seismic Zone III area.
    • The dam is a source of friction between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
    • A cascading failure of Mullaperiyar and Idukki will result in a catastrophe that is beyond imagination.
    • It will affect the life and property of 50 lakh people residing below the Idukki dam. 

    Supreme Court’s Stand

    • The SC ordered the Mullaperiyar Dam Supervisory Committee to issue directions on issues concerning the dam’s safety.
      • A permanent Supervisory Committee in 2014 was constituted to oversee all the issues concerning the Mullaperiyar dam
    • Kerala has urged the Supervisory Committee to reconsider the peak value of the upper rule level of 142 feet.
      • Which is formulated by Tamil Nadu in consultation with the Central Water Commission (CWC). 
    • If the water level at Mullaperiyar was kept at a higher level, releases from it 

    would be affecting the already filled Idukki reservoir.

    Kerala’s Stand 

    • Kerala’s affidavit coincides with a red alert issued in Chennai following torrential rains. 
      • The Chennai rains came on the heels of several days of downpour in Kerala. 
    • The State referred to the Uttarakhand flood, the Chamoli disaster of February 2021.
      • Which was mainly attributed to the climate change in the environs of the Nanda Devi National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site.
    • Building a new dam in the downstream reaches of the existing Mullaperiyar dam is the only permanent solution.
      • The suggestion dates back to 1979, Kerala suggested but Tamil Nadu had not concurred with the proposal of a new dam.
      • The State referred to the decommissioning of another 19th-century lime concrete structure, the Victoria dam in Australia.
        • Which was decommissioned in 1990 following seepages and a new dam constructed.

    Mullaperiyar Dam

    • The Mullaperiyar is a 126-year-old dam.
    • It is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers in Kerala’s Idukki district.
      • The dam intends to divert the waters of the west-flowing river Periyar eastward to the arid rain shadow regions of Tamil Nadu.
    • The dam stands at the height of 53.66 metres and 365.85 metres in length.
    • Operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu for meeting the drinking water and irrigation requirements.
      • During British rule, according to a 999-year lease agreement the operational rights were handed over to Tamil Nadu.

    Periyar River

    • Also known as ‘Lifeline of Kerala’, is the longest river in the state of Kerala.
      • It is one of the few perennial rivers in the state with a length of 244 km.
    • It originates from the Sivagiri hills of Western Ghats and flows through the Periyar National Park.
    • The main tributaries of Periyar are 
      • Muthirapuzha, Mullayar, Cheruthoni, Perinjankutti.

    Source: TH