The Tamil Nadu government on Friday rejected Kerala’s contention that sudden water released by Tamil Nadu from the Mullaperiyar dam was one of the reasons for the deluge in the neighbouring state.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami said Kerala suffered the deluge due to the discharge of excess water from 80 reservoirs spurred by heavy rains in that state.
The Kerala government had yesterday filed an affidavit in the Supreme court, saying the sudden release of water from the Mullaperiyar dam by the Tamil Nadu government was one of the reasons for the unprecedented flooding in the state.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, however, told reporters today, “It was not just one part of Kerala that was affected due to the floods. It happened because of the discharge of excess water from 80 dams. The (Kerala) government is deliberately giving false information so as to not store water at 152 ft.”
The dam is operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu.
Further, water release was not sudden but done only after periodic alerts issued at various levels, he said. “Therefore, I wish to say that filling up of dams in Kerala due to the heavy rains and (discharge) of their excess water resulted in floods.”
The dam’s safety has been a bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
In a May 2014 verdict, a five-judge Constitution bench of the apex court had held that the Mullaperiyar dam was safe, and allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water level up to 142 feet from 136 ft and and ultimately to 152 feet after the completion of strengthening measures on the reservoir.
The Kerala government affidavit also said that out of a total population of about 3.48 crore, more than 54 lakh (or one-sixth of the population of Kerala) had been directly affected by the floods.
Kerala had said that in the wake of prior alerts by its engineers, its Water Resources Secretary had written to her counterpart in the Tamil Nadu government and the Chairman of the Supervisory Committee on Mullaperiyar dam, requesting controlled release of water without waiting for the water in the reservoir to reach full level.
“Accordingly, the Tamil Nadu government was requested to gradually release water at least by 139 feet…But no positive assurance in this regard was received from Tamil Nadu even after repeated requests…
“But 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 affidavit had said.
Palaniswami, however, today said the water released from the dam was not sudden as alleged by Kerala and that periodic alerts were issued at 139 ft, 141 ft and 142 ft.
The Kerala government had also sought constitution of a committee to manage the day-to-day operations of the Mullaperiyar Dam, located on the Western Ghats near Thekkady in Idukki district of Kerala on the Periyar river.
Today, Palaniswami said that a central team had reviewed the dam a month before the floods in Kerala, and had opined that it was “safe”.
“They had said that water could be stored at 142 ft.. the flooding had happened 20 days after that,” he said.
The Chief Minister further said torrential downpour in various parts of Kerala had contributed to the deluge, besides the discharge of excess water from the dams in that state.
Water was released only a week after the flooding had happened in Kerala, he added. There was ‘small levels’ of discharge in the range of 11,000-12,000 tmcft and that water was not released “at one go,” Palaniswami added.