The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to suddenly release water from the Mullaperiyar dam was one of the reasons for the devastating floods in Kerala, the Pinarayi Vijayan government told the Supreme Court in an affidavit filed on Thursday, PTI reported.
The Kerala state government said the water resources secretary had written to her counterpart in Tamil Nadu and the chairperson of the dam’s supervisory committee, requesting controlled release of water before the reservoir gets filled to capacity.
“Accordingly, the Tamil Nadu government was requested to gradually release water at least by 139 feet,” it said in its affidavit. “But no positive assurance in this regard was received from Tamil Nadu even after repeated requests... The sudden release from the Mullaperiyar dam, third largest reservoir in the Periyar Basin, forced us to release more water from Idukki reservoir, downstream of Mullaperiyar, which is one of the causes of this deluge.”
The state said the chairperson the Central Water Commission should head the dam’s supervisory committee to avoid a repeat of such a situation. The chief secretaries of both the states should be its members, Kerala added in its affidavit.
This panel, it said, should be empowered to take decisions regarding the dam’s operations by a majority opinion during flood or any other crisis. The Kerala government also urged the top court to direct the Centre to set up a management committee to carry out the dam’s daily operations.
On August 17, the Supreme Court asked the National Committee for Crisis Management and the disaster management sub-committee to explore the possibility of reducing the water level at Mullaperiyar dam to 139 feet after water reached 142 feet, which is the reservoir’s maximum capacity.
The dam was built in 1886 after an agreement between then Maharaja of Travancore and the British. It is located in Kerala’s Idukki district but is managed by the Tamil Nadu government.