The Kerala government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the Mullaperiyar Dam should be decommissioned as it is extremely vulnerable and a new one must be built in its place, Bar and Bench reported.
The 126-year-old dam is located in Kerala’s Idukki district and is managed by the Tamil Nadu government. The water level in the dam rose after heavy rain in Kerala in October.
The Supreme Court has been hearing the Kerala government’s petition, saying that the water level in Mullaperiyar Dam should not be allowed to cross 139 feet. This is three feet below the 142-foot-limit set by the Supreme Court in 2014.
The court had also appointed a supervisory committee to decide on the maximum water level that can be maintained in the dam.
On Wednesday, the committee said that there was no need to change the dam’s water level. Kerala opposed this opinion.
“The coming monsoon that is to set off during this week too would likely affect the inflow into Mullaperiyar Dam, hence the State of Kerala reiterates its stand to increase the outflow to the maximum possible extent,” it said, according to Live Law.
Kerala told the court that because of its “large catchment area and limited storage capacity”, the dam was exceptionally vulnerable, Bar and Bench reported.
The state added that the failure of the dam could have catastrophic consequences beyond human comprehension.
“The apprehensions of the government of Kerala regarding the life and safety of more than 30 lakh people of five districts residing downstream of the dam has to be given due importance and consideration,” it added. “Logical next step is construction of a new dam to ensure water to Tamil Nadu and security to people living downstream and to decommission the existing dam.”
On Sunday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had urged his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin to draw water from the Mullaperiyar Dam.
In a letter to Stalin, Vijayan said that 2,109 cusecs of water had accumulated in the dam even after Tamil Nadu had diverted water. The Kerala chief minister pointed out that if the inflow continued and the rain worsened, the water level in the reservoir would cross the safety mark of 142 feet.
“I request your kind and positive response for ensuring the safety of the lives of our people,” the Kerala chief minister had said.