An application has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking appropriate direction to Government of Tamil Nadu to construct a new dam as also augment the storage capacity of the Vaigai dam downstream or to take such steps to strengthen the Mullaperiyar dam till an alternative dam is constructed.
- The petitioners said this is necessary to allay the fear of the millions whose lives are at risk in the event of the unthinkable, namely the collapse of the Mullaperiar dam and as a fallout the giving away of the Idukki dam which is certain to cause the loss of 35-40 lakhs of citizens in the five districts of Idukki, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kottayam and Alappuzha, may wiping out of the city of Cochin.
- Recently, the Supreme Court directed the Supervisory Committee to take an immediate and firm decision on the maximum water level that can be maintained at Mullaperiyar dam, amid torrential rain in Kerala.
- The SC constituted a permanent Supervisory Committee in 2014 to oversee all the issues concerning Mullaperiyar dam. The dam is a source of friction between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
- Kerala said the water level should not go above 139 feet, the same as what the court had ordered on August 24, 2018, when the State was hit by floods. It is because the lives of 50 lakh people would be in danger if the water level in the dam is raised.
- However, Tamil Nadu objected to this decision citing the Supreme Court judgments of 2006 and 2014, which fixed the maximum water level at 142 feet.
- Mullaperiyar Dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu following an 1886 lease indenture for 999 years (the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement) that was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for India for the Periyar Irrigation works.
- Constructed between 1887 and 1895, the dam redirected the river to flow towards the Bay of Bengal, instead of the Arabian Sea and provide water to the arid rain region of Madurai in Madras Presidency.
- The dam is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers inKerala’s Idukki district.
- Tamil Nadu claims that although it has undertaken measures to strengthen the dam, the Kerala government has blocked any attempt to raise the reservoir water level – resulting in losses for Madurai farmers.
- Kerala, however, highlights fears of devastation by residents living downstream in the earthquake-prone district of Idukki.
- Scientists have argued that if there is an earthquake in the region measuring above six on the Richter scale, the lives of over three million people will come under grave danger.