IDUKKI: Idukki District Collector Sheeba George on Tuesday said safety measures have been beefed up to ensure the protection of people staying downstream, considering the rise in the water level in Mullaperiyar dam due to heavy rain in catchment areas.
“People need not panic. We have made all the arrangements for their safety,” she said. Sheeba said steps have been taken to evacuate 3,220 people of Elappara, Upputhara, Periyar and Manjumala villages of Peermade taluk, Ayyappancoil and Kanchiyar villages of Idukki taluk and Anavilasam village of Udumbanchola before the dam’s shutters are raised.
Sheeba was speaking at the emergency meeting convened here to evaluate the measures that need to be taken before raising the shutters of the dam. Water level in Mullaperiyar dam reached 137.6 ft on Tuesday against the permissible level of 142 ft. However, the water remained stable at the 137.6-ft mark till 4pm. The inflow came down to 2,496 cusecs by evening.
While other parts of Idukki have been witnessing clear sky during the day and relatively low rain at night for the past two days, the heavy rain lashing in the forest area upstream of the dam had led to high inflow to Mullaperiyar dam.
“I have been living downstream of the reservoir for nearly half a century now. The early monsoon, which started lashing Idukki since May, has already made the soil wet. The downpour since October resulted in the formation of new springs due to high water content in the mud, which led to high inflow into the dam,” Shaji, a resident and former Kumily local body member, told TNIE.
Spl officers appointed
The Idukki administration appoints 2 deputy collectors as Mullaperiyar dam special officers. They will be in Vandiperiyar and Upputhara to coordinate relief activities.
Control rooms opened at district, taluk and village levels. The forest dept has opened control rooms in Vallakadavu & Vandiperiyar.
4 units of Fire and Rescue Services deployed in the area. Besides, health, police, KSEB, water authority, Rapid Response Team and Special Task Force are all set for disaster management activities downstream of Mullaperiyar.
The district administration has identified locations to evacuate residents, strictly adhering to Covid protocols.
An aged GIANT
Mullaperiyar dam is a Surkhi lime mortar gravity dam built at the confluence of Periyar and Mullayar. The dam and its catchment areas are situated in Kerala while the dam is operated by Tamil Nadu. A lease agreement was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and Madras presidency in 1886 for construction of the dam and diversion of water to Tamil Nadu. The agreement gave 8,000 acres of land for the reservoir and another 100 acres to construct the dam. The agreement was renewed in 1970 during Chief Minister C Achutha Menon’s tenure.
The dam was constructed between 1887 and 1895 under the leadership of British engineer John Pennicuick. The dam has a storage capacity of 16 TMC (thousand million cubic feet)
- In 1979 the Central Water Commission recommended to keep water level at 136 ft as Kerala raised concern about the strength of the dam.
- In 2014, Supreme Court allowed TN to raise water level to 142 ft.
- Water released from Mullaperiyar dam will reach Idukki reservoir located 36 km downstream
900M Where the proposed spot for the new dam is located downstream from the old structure
- Santhi bridge which collapsed after water release from Mullaperiyar during 2018 floods
- Plan to shift 3,220 people belonging to 883 families in case of water release
- At 2.40 am on August 15, 2018, Tamil Nadu opened all 13 shutters of Mullaperiyar dam to a height of one feet releasing 4,490 cusecs of water. As the inflow rose to 35,000 cusecs, the shutters were fully opened releasing 26,835 cusecs of water, leading to flooding of downstream areas
Full reservoir level: 2,403 ft
Max water level: 2,408.5 ft
Present level: 2,398.06 ft
Flood gates: 5
40 cm Height to which one shutter was raised
40,000 litres per second
Idukki reservoir has three dams, Idukki arch dam, Cheruthoni dam and Kulamavu dam. Only Cheruthoni dam has shutters.
Water will flow down through Cheruthoni river to join Periyar and flow to Lower Periyar dam, Neriamangalam, Bhoothathan Kettu dam to reach Aluva, Varapuzha and Paravoor before flowing into the Arabian Sea.
Something new needs to be done, says Governor
T’Puram: Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan on Tuesday said something new needed to be done in the case of Mullaperiyar dam as the existing structure was very old and weak. Khan also favoured decommissioning the old structure and constructing a new one at the site. “It is an old dam. Efforts should be made to construct a new dam at the site,” he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.Expressing hope for an amicable settlement in the issue, Khan said, “Let the court deal with the issues between the two states and arrive at an amicable solution.” This is the first time Khan has made a statement on the decades-old issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Satheesan writes to Stalin
T’Puram: Opposition Leader V D Satheesan wrote to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin raising Kerala’s concerns over Mullaperiyar dam. In his letter, Satheesan urged Stalin to back Kerala’s demand for a new dam at the location. “The state believes in safety for Kerala and water for Tamil Nadu. The unprecedented rain during October has filled up dams in Kerala to the brim. Questions on the safety of Mullaperiyar dam are weighing heavily on each Keralite’s mind,” said Satheesan. The Opposition leader said there should be a collective attempt to find a permanent solution, which is legally and technically sound and binding, to the Mullaperiyar dam issue.