Despite drought, KSEB’s Sholayar avails full share of water from Tamil Nadu

As of May 9, 2024, Kerala received 11.514 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water from the project at Sholayar dam as against the annual share of 12.3 TMC.
Representative Image
Representative Image

KOCHI: For the first time in the history of the Parambikulam Aliyar Project (PAP) interstate agreement, the state has been able to avail 100% of its share of water at the Sholayar dam during a drought year.

As of May 9, 2024, Kerala received 11.514 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water from the project at Sholayar dam as against the annual share of 12.3 TMC. The water year for PAP starts on July 1 and ends on June 30. The state has got one month and 20 days to avail the balance share of 0.786 TMC water from the project. The dam has a live storage of 0.944 TMC.

Kerala has generated 216.5 million units of power utilising the water from the project, helping it meet the rising demand for electricity during peak hours. The Sholayar power project has three generators with an installed capacity of 18MW. Considering the peak-hour demand, Kerala is running the three generators at Sholayar only during night hours.

A KSEB official said they can comfortably draw the remaining 0.786 TMC for power generation before June 30. Thanks to effective coordination with Tamil Nadu, the KSEB has been able to ensure the planned hydel generation at Sholayar despite facing an extreme drought year. Major KSEB reservoirs have received just 65% inflow in 2023-24, compared to the storage the previous year.

The gauging data jointly maintained by Tamil Nadu and Kerala reveals that the PAP system received only 31.27 TMC of water as of April 30, which is 61% of the long period average (1970-2023) of 50 TMC. Under the PAP agreement, TN has to release 21 TMC of water to Kerala of which 12.3 TMC will be shared to Kerala Sholayar dam, 7.25 TMC has to be released to Aliyar dam at Manakadavu in Palakkad and 1.4 TMC to Idamalayar dam between October 1 and January 31.

This year, the PAP received only 31.27 TMC of water of which 18.38 TMC was released to Kerala. The upper riparian state, which is entitled to get 25 TMC, has received just 12.89 TMC as on April 30. Kerala Sholayar dam received 11.514 TMC while 5.77 TMC has been released from Aliyar dam.

During previous drought years, TN used to reduce Kerala’s share and divert a portion of the storage at Parambikulam through canals. In 2016-17, the last drought year, Kerala Sholayar received only 8.204 TMC. Even in 2018-19, when Kerala experienced its worst flood, only 9.996 TMC of water was received at Sholayar.

As per the PAP, TN has to ensure release of water to fill Kerala Sholayar dam to full capacity of 149.23 MCM (million cubic metres) on September 1 and February 1. The KSEB generates 19 MU (million units) of power at Sholayar and 10 MU at Poringalkuthu using 1 TMC released under the PAP deal. The tailwater is used for irrigation and drinking water projects in Chalakudy river. This year, there have been no complaints of water scarcity in the Chalakudy basin.

“We have availed the full share of 12.3 TMC from the PAP at Sholayar in the past five years through negotiations with TN at Joint Water Regulatory Board meetings. Besides, we have drawn an additional 2.157 TMC in the past four years. KSEB achieved this feat through professional water management and consistent follow-up with TN authorities. This additional water helped us generate 40.98 MU additionally at Sholayar and 21.57 MU at Poringalkuthu,” said a senior KSEB official.

Water received in 2024 (As on April 30)

Usage by Tamil Nadu - 31.27 TMC

Kerala received - 18.38 TMC

  • Sholayar’s share - 11.514 TMC

  • Manakadavu’s share - 5.77 TMC

  • Idamalayar’s share - 1.1 TMC

Smooth flow

Parambikulam Aliyar Project agreement

Kerala’s share - 21 TMC

  • 12.3 TMC at Kerala Sholayar

  • 7.25 TMC at Manakadavu

  • 1.4 TMC at Idamalayar

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