The contentious Mullaperiyar Dam issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which is now before the Supreme Court following heavy rains over the past week, is likely to trigger fresh tension between the two states.
Although the dam is located in Kerala, it serves and is operated by Tamil Nadu, and Kerala has for long been demanding de-commissioning of the dam which has over the years developed leaks.
On account of the huge rains that hit Idukki in the past one week, in the wee hours of Wednesday around 2:35 AM, the sluice gates of the dam were opened after the water level touched 142 feet mark.
Incidentally, the route that the water from the Mullaperiyar Dam takes reaches the catchment area of the Idukki dam, which is also overflowing currently.
Tamil Nadu has all along maintained that the dam is safe, and a Supreme Court directive in May 2014 allowed the state to increase the water level from 136 feet to a maximum of 142 feet.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British regime.
With the ongoing downpour in and around Idukki dam, there is anxiety over the way Tamil Nadu would handle the water level in the dam, as they use the waters of the dam using large penstock pipes for irrigating their farmland.
Reports have surfaced that Tamil Nadu has now reduced its offtake to prove a point that the dam is safe and the water level in the dam could be raised further to 152 feet.
After a review meeting on Wednesday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media now that the water level in the dam has touched 142 feet, he would soon speak to his counterpart in Tamil Nadu and also to the Centre to appraise them of the gravity of the situation.
Anxious people living around the dam and downstream reacted sharply to the way things are being handled and wished that this is the time that the Supervisory Committee of the apex court should make a visit to the dam site and see for themselves that danger lurks here.
First Published: IST