Mullaperiyar: genesis of a dispute

The colonial-era Mullaperiyar dam has again become a source of friction between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Though the original dispute was over the appropriateness of the dam’s water level, Kerala, already reeling under severe adverse impact of floods, sprang a surprise by accusing Tamil Nadu of having carried out “sudden releases” of water. This, Kerala says, forced it to discharge more water from the downstream Idukki reservoir, about 40 km away from Mullaperiyar, which has been cited as one of the causes for the “deluge”. In Kerala’s assessment, Tamil Nadu should have heeded its request immediately and lowered the water level in Mullaperiyar to 139 ft to moderate the floods. ‘Far less’ Tamil Nadu, on its part, has defended its position and stated that, well before shutters of the Mullaperiyar were opened in the early hours of Independence Day (August 15), excess water was being discharged through the flood gates of several dams in Kerala. Besides, compared to about 36 thousand million cubic feet (tmc) of water released from the Idukki and Idamalayar dams in the Periyar basin from August 14-19, the amount of water released from Mullaperiyar at the same time was hardly 6.65 tmc, which was “far less” than the quantities of water that flowed from the other two dams. Mullaperiyar, the safety of which was confirmed by experts on several occasions, had enough provision to handle flood flows: this is how Tamil Nadu justified its stand, and denied the charge made by its neighbour. The history of the Mullaperiyar issue goes back a long way: the dam, located in the Idukki district of Kerala, is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu to meet the drinking water and irrigation requirements of five of its southern districts. As a sequel to an agreement signed between the then Travancore and Madras governments in October 1886, about 8,000 acres was leased by the former to the latter for the dam project. The dam was built over the period from 1887 to 1895.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/mullaperiyar-genesis-of-a-dispute/article24782805.ece

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