IDUKKI: Resentment is brewing in the villages downstream of the Mullaperiyar dam against the Kerala government's silence in finding a solution to the Mullaperiyar issue after Tamil Nadu opened the dam shutters on Wednesday night without giving a proper warning to the residents.
A protest march was organised under the leadership of 'Pourasamithi' in Vandiperiyar town here on Thursday and the residents laid siege along the Kollam-Dingigul NH demanding that the government take immediate action in the issue.
Tamil Nadu had opened 10 of the 13 shutters of the dam in the wee hours of Thursday to let out nearly 10,000 cusecs of water from the dam which ultimately resulted in water levels in the Periyar river rising a further 4 feet in height. Flood water entered several houses located on the bank of Periyar in Vallakkadavu and the residents had to seek shelter in higher grounds at night for their safety.
"Generally, when the dam gates are open, the officials inform us in advance. But this time, we did not receive any information," said Lazar M, a resident.
"We are lucky not to lose any lives, but what the Tamil Nadu did was complete disregard to people's lives and property," said Manikandan, a local resident. "What would have happened to the people if they had not woken up from their sleep?" he asked.
The permissible level of water that can be maintained in the Mullaperiyar Dam as directed by the Supreme Court is 142 feet. Although the neighbouring state had closed all the nine shutters of the dam, which were opened on Tuesday, at 11 am on Wednesday, one shutter was lifted up again by Wednesday evening after the water level in the dam surged to 142 feet.
At 7 pm on Wednesday, one more shutter was raised which was later increased to eight shutters by 2.30 am. Within an hour, two more shutters were lifted up, thus letting out 9888.4 cusecs of water from the dam through 10 shutters.
Presently, Tamil Nadu has opened five shutters of the dam (V1, V2, V3, V4, and V5) to let out 2103.5 cusecs water from the dam in addition to the 1867 cusecs released via tunnels. However, water level in the dam continued to be at 142 feet till 1 pm on Thursday.
Water resources minister Roshy Augustine opined that Tamil Nadu's act of opening dam shutters without giving proper warning disregarding the lives of residents here was not right.
"Tamil Nadu not adhering to the protocols is to be seen seriously. The matter has been brought to the notice of the chief minister and he will talk to the Tamil Nadu government," he said. The minister added that he will demand a meeting of the dam monitoring committee to find a solution to the issue.