Know All About The Mullaperiyar Dam Dispute

Mullaperiyar Dam is 116 year old bone of contention between two south Indian states that is between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Let’s know all about the Mullaperiyar dam dispute.

Know All About The Mullaperiyar Dam Dispute

Know Some Basic Facts on Mullaperiyar Dam

  • The Mullaperiyar dam was built on the inter-state Periyar River in Idukki district of Kerala.
  • The dam was built on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers.
  • The dam was constructed in between 1887 and 1895 by the British rulers to divert the water eastward to feed the farmers of the Madras presidency for agricultural purpose.
  • The dam was given on lease to the Tamil Nadu on 29th October, 1886 for 999 years.
  • The dam is operated by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited.
  • It is a masonry gravity dam.
  • The Periyar National Park is located around the dam’s reservoir.
  • Earlier name of the dam is Periyaru Dam.

Mullaperiyar dam in Map

Source: Google Map

What Is The Dispute?
  • Tamil Nadu depends on the water of Periyar River for agricultural, industrial and basic needs, therefore Tamil Nadu is asking Kerala to raise the water level of the dam.
  • Kerala is opposing to supply more water to Tamil Nadu because there will be a significant threat to this 119 years old dam if the water level is raised to higher extent.
  • The dam is already declared as endangered construction
  • It was also reported that any further increase in water pressure may lead to the complete collapse of the dam.
  • Collapsing of the dam would cause severe damage to property,agriculture,industry and human life to both of the states.
  • The dispute is currently under the supervision Supreme Court of India.
  • The petition was filed on behalf of Kerala to lower the water level of Mullaperiyar dam to 130 feet citing the danger of earthquakes and floods as the dam is very old.
  • The 999 years lease agreement was renewed on 1970. In this agreement Kerala got the rights to the land and water from the dam and Kerala would receive rent from Tamil Nadu in return.
  • The Central Water Commission recommended lowering the water level in the dam’s reservoir to 136 feet from 142 feet following a earthquake in 1979. The earthquake created a crack on the reservoir of the dam.
  • The Central Water Commission also instructed that the water level could be raised to the full capacity i.e up to 152 feet only if proper measures are implemented to repair the dam.
  • Now Tamil Nadu want the full capacity of the dam as they are claiming that they have taken necessary measures to repair the dam.
  • But Kerala is opposing as the dam is in earthquake-prone area. Seismologists also reported that an earthquake measuring above six on the Richter scale, would cause a threat to lives of three million people living around the dam’s territory.
    Know the Chronology of Legal Disputes
    • Tamil Nadu was awarded a legal sanction from the Supreme court to raise the water level to 142 feet in 2006.
    • Following the sanction,Kerala amended the 2003 Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, to restrict the water level up-to 136 feet.
    • A joint inspection committee under the Supreme Court of India declared that the dam was “structurally and hydrologically safe” and that the Tamil Nadu government could be allowed to raise water levels up to full reservoir level (FRL) i.e. 142 feet.
    • In 2014, Supreme Court of India defined the 2003 Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act as unconstitutional.
    • The Supreme Court had also directed central government and both the state governments to set up three high level committee to prepare a contingency plan in case of a disaster.
    Measures to Resolve Dispute
    • Interstate water disputes Act, 1956 was enacted to address such issues.
    • A supervisory committee,headed by senior Central Water Commission (CWC) officer, LAV Nathan was formed in 2006.The committee was set up to oversee the repair work and necessary safety measures taken to the dam.
    • A.S. Anand committee was formed by the Supreme Court in 2010 to examine and prepare a report in a time bound manner.
    • A joint inspection committee  was constituted in 2012 under The Supreme Court to conduct a chemical test of of seepage water from the dam and the committee was also in charge to inspect the restoration of full reservoir level (FRL) of the dam.
    Few more Inter-State Water Disputes

    • Narmada Water Dispute: In between Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
    • Ravi and Beas Water Dispute: In between Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi
    • Satluj-Yamuna Link Canal Dispute: In between Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.
    • Yamuna River Water Dispute: In between Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.
    • Cauvery Water Dispute: In between Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka.
    • Krishna Water Dispute: In between Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
    • Tungabhadra Water Dispute: In between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
    • Godavari River Water Dispute: In between Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh.

    The Mullaperiyar dam dispute originated from a historical misunderstanding. We can not overturn the history but we can bypass such unfortunate incident in future. The long term Mullaperiyar dam dispute is causing multilateral damage in agricultural, socio-economical and industrial sector from both the states.River Basin Organization should be established with some set of comprehensive guidelines and transparent institutional framework. Cooperation and consensus through dialogue and talks should be encouraged while by avoiding all kind of political opportunism. Besides, the central government should take necessary steps and enact more stringent and practical laws to avoid such incidents in future.Speedy and time-bound justice should be incorporated in an urgent basis.

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