Sunday, November 20, 2011

MULLAPERIYAR DAM : A TIME BOMB ?

 The Mullaperiyar Dam, situated in Idukki District of Kerala has developed serious cracks the entire 1200 feet length due to frequent small and big tremors and the news have now displayed prominently in the newspapers on account of its gravity.

  Idukki is a mountainous region and though it is geographically ideal place to build dams, the Geologists have found out a fault line  that  makes  the place  prone to quakes. The experts say that there is possibility for quakes measuring 6 or above in Richter scale in the region, as increased Seismic activities are seen now.

The Idukki Dam is just 30 Kms away from Mullaperyar and in addition to the regional vulnerability to quake, the presence of multiple Dams too can turn out to be a triggering factor for a major quake. The water from the Mullaperyar Dam reaches to Idukki Dam, the biggest hydel power reservoir in Kerala and a major source of Electricity in the State. Although Mullaperyar Dam has a height of 155 feet, water is stored up to a height of 136 feet only against the protest of neighboring State of Tamil Nadu which demands to store water up to 142 feet. The Kerala Government cannot comply it on account of the structural weakness of the Dam.

 The Mullaperiyar Dam is situated 5000 feet above sea level with a length of 1200 feet and a height of 155 feet.  The Dam was constructed in 1895 using lime and surkhi mortar.The advanced technology of dam construction  was not known then and if the Dam outlived its projected period it is because of the excellence of the work done by the British Government. It was built originally for a projected period of 50 years which ended 65 years ago. A new Dam should have been constructed in its place long ago, but it could not be done because the ownership of the dam rests with Tamil Nadu Government and the Tamil Nadu is adamantly opposing to make any changes to the Dam. The dispute is before the supreme court of India now.

On closer look, the whole issue would appear strange. Though the entire area of  Dam belongs to Kerala state, including the Dam's catchments areas in Western Gnats, the State is unable to carry out any works there including building a new Dam without permission of either from the Tamil Nadu Govt.or from the  Supreme Court.  The Government's hands are tied up with a Lease Deed made out in 1886 between Travancore Maharaja and the British Government,  representing the present Tamil Nadu which was then an administrative sub division of British India. The lease is for a period of 999 years.  But after the Independence, the lease indenture annulled on its own as it was an agreement signed before the constitution of India came in to force.

However, a review agreement was made between Kerala and Tamil Nadu in 1970 to continue supply of water to Tamil Nadu. The Tamil Nadu needs the water from the Dam  to irrigate the arid lands of Theni, Ramanathapuam, Sivaganga and Madurai Districts comprising Lakhs of Acres and no wonder it is a hot social and political issue in Tamil Nadu. The owner ship of the Dam and Dam site remained with the Tamil Nadu Government in the fresh agreement also.

 The dam appears to be in real danger as tremors are a regular feature in the area and even a single  tremor would be making a little instability in the structure and already serious cracks have been developed at the bottom of the Dam.

It is unthinkable what would happen if a strong quake brought damage to the Dam (God forbid) As the water from Mullaperiyar dam would immediately flow to Idukki Dam and Idukki Dam not designed to cope with waters from the Mullaperiyar additionally, it is unpredictable what would happen then. And such an eventuality would inundate four districts of Kerala including the commercial hub, Cochin.The loss of life and property is unimaginable.

Ms Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu is against building a new dam at the site. She is an intelligent lady and she can very well understand the danger the present Dam poses to Kerala, but the matter is embroiled in politics and she has no choice but to favour her people's sentiments.

However, it is time  the people of Tamil Nadu seriously pondered over the vulnerability of the present dam,  the threat Kerala is facing and  their own necessity to have a dam there  They should ask themselves, why not a better dam and why not a  larger quantity of water for their fields.

With  regard to the Tamil people’s perennial suspicion on the uninterrupted supply of water to the central Tamil Nadu Districts from a newly built dam, a fresh agreement on sharing water can easily be drawn up as done in 1970. The Government of Kerala would only be happy to supply agricultural water to Tamil Nadu and its only concern is about the safety of the dam and safety of its people.

 If  Tamil Nadu had cooperated earlier a new dam would have come up by now and they too would have benefited from it. Any way a new dam will have to be made sooner or later and ad-hoc repairs are not going to sustain the Dam for long when there is the threat of earth quake. In the circumstance the obvious choice is to build a new Dam. I will never understand why it does not get positive  response from the people of Tamil Nadu  leaving the  matter to drag on for years.

If Tamil Nadu is putting forward conditions for constructing new Dam including uninterrupted supply of water,  it is understandable and can be discussed, but simply saying a stubborn no without citing any reason is frustrating indeed. Generally speaking, the Tamil people are very loving, cordial and cooperative but in this case Tamil Nadu politics seems to have prevented them from taking an equitable stand.



 7.2.2012:      The News reports have it  that a small dam situated on the Ivanovo reservoir in the Southern Bulgaria was collapsed Monday,6th Feb. due to continuous rains for the last several days inundating the village Bisser and neighboring regions. The rivers and reservoirs  there were already swollen with rains and melted ice under which  the Dam gave in ultimately. Now the water from the burst reservoir too is flowing in to the rivers making other dams nearby to burst any time. So far 8 persons were reported dead and several ones missing.

 Of course this is an extra ordinary case. Yet  it reminds us that prevention is better than cure.

The Latest : A new dam is unlikely to be built in the place of the present one as sanction for it is difficult to get from the Supreme court and the Kerala Government is thinking about alternate ways like slowly phasing out the dam without difficulty to Tamil nadu.


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Images from google

19 comments:

kochikaran said...

Why these people not responding? Where the hell are the political parties who calls for strike on small issues?

Guys raise your voice now!!!

Anonymous said...

This is a grave issue and we the affected people should plan for protests to alert the government to take action. The changing TamilNadu govts are acting on the interests of the people (rather out of their interest for VOTES). It should be possible for the people of Kerala also to force this genuine need and secure the lives and properties of our land.

Anonymous said...

A retired Chief Engineer said---

It seems the people of Kerala and the political partes irrespective of LDF or UDF alike do not undrstand the seriousness of the safety of Mullaperiyar dam.On one side it is 115 years old constructed in surki and is in the seismic regions.The recent mild earthquake has created fissure on the dam and God Forfid a severe one and the eventualities that follow.It will be a catastrophy for the downstream living people.Kerala should build the new dam at the earliest and assure Tamilnadu on the continuous supply of water to them from the new dam.
For these all people of Kerala and political parties should be united

Anonymous said...

very well written sir ! It is really a big threat for people in kerala. Tamilnadu should understand this.

Anonymous said...

വളരെ നന്നായിട്ടുണ്ട്. തുടര്‍ന്നും എഴുതുക .

Babu said...

Tamilnadu government is afraid of taking a brave decision because of votes, whether it is DMK or AIADMK. Now the people in Tamilnadu should understand the situation that people of Kerala is in real danger. So the decision of constructing a new dam must be urgently taken or maybe there will be a catastrophe, which could be the biggest the world has ever seen.

Anonymous said...

save all of usfrom ernakulam,kotayam and idukki..tamilnadu govt please tie up with kerala govt and save us

Anonymous said...

its an issue of india,not kerala alone...save us

Shukoor said...

More tremors reported even today. Situation is growing more panic. Govts are playing politics on the issue. What poeple will do. God only knows what will happen in case of a collapse. It would be disastrous.

But one more thing that to be condemned is both UDF and LDF called for a Harthal in the district. There is nothing to do with these hartals except disturbing people. Creative agitations are always welcome.

Your article is timely and relevant.

Thanks.

Jose said...

sometimes the changing Governments of Thamil Nadu would have the willingness to do something. But they really fear their people. All should very clearly understand disaster that is impending. Thamil people also should understand that how it would adversly affect their life, cropes , and enrgy needs of Thamil nadu especially Theni,Dindigul,Ramanadapuram, Madhurai and Shivgaga. They should understand the the worst devastating disaster that thier neighbour people are facing.

Shoba said...

It is sad to see that 'God's own place' is in danger. It is high time people do away with their differences, if any, and start to think about our country & its people. No point in resorting to Hartals as it is no ones gain. It is only a national loss. Think wisely & act timely. Let the people to take decission on this visit the dam site immediately to understand the consequences & take quick actions. Not to waste any further time in discussing & deciding who is the owner & who has to do the work. India is one & so are its people.

Arun Kumar said...

While taking any decision, no part of our country should be adversely affected – whether TN or Kerala. In case the water flow is TN’s issue, the end result of any decision must be such that TN gets whatever water/other resources currently it gets – not even a drop less than what it gets now, while simultaneously protecting the interests of Kerala. We must remember that these states are only part of our great India and not independent states.
Just for the sake of vote bank and their vested interests, politicians involve in unwarranted public comments on the issue, inciting people and creating hatred amongst the people of India. This is not a welcome move. What I feel is that we must work together to create better living conditions in our country rather than wasting our life and time in destabilizing it.

PRAVEEN POOLAKKAL said...

I would like to said, Kerala peoples are attacked in Tamilnadu state.so please compromise and build a new dam ,PROTECT MALAYALAM PEOPLES (prevention is better than cure)

Anonymous said...

New dam u said was planned to construct 50 feet deeper than mullai periyar.Tamilnadu ll get water oly if water level raises greater than 152 feet n new dam.No chance for that...

V.M.S. said...

There are no problems that cannot be solved in mutual discussions. Thanks to all for visit and valuable comments

Anonymous said...

You people have no sufficient information. The Dam is old true, but it was reconstructed at least 3 times. In 1933, 40 tonnes of concrete was made to coat the outside wall and in 1960, 500 tonnes of concrete was pumped inside the base and in 2000, by supreme court the dam was made strong and new using latest methods... moreover on 27/02/2006 the supreme court said the water amount should be increased to 152m and the dam is strong thats why Tamil people and their government saying not to break the dam... kerala brothers your government is fooling you by providing insufficient data because of the election don't fall for it.

Anonymous said...

The data is not complete. The Dam has been made stronger post Kerala's concerns in 1970.
My dear kerala brothers should please understand the architecture of the dam before ever raising a concern.
Dams with similar technology are still surviving all over the world.
The engineers from the central ministry of water resource has several times said that there is no threat to the dam.
It was kerala legislature that did not go with SC after its judgement and went for a seperate legislation to annul the judgement.
Dear brothers from Kerala,
Don't fall prey to ugly politics. Remain with the same love and care ever.
Regards,
Fellow Indian

Anonymous said...

guys this is serious.The dam is on the threshold of breaking and u still have to brood over the issue of a new dam.Hey tamilians.what is more important :ur water or the lives of lakhs of keralites.

Bijumon Thomas said...

Indian culture is rich but substantial erosion that's taken place can be noticed due to controversies initiated well nested all around this problem of Dam Safety. On a wider scale, this is an ideal example, Democracy in its form is not suitable for nation unless clean good policies added with able &only capable politicians who understand needs of people in right perspectives. Their good participation by having on higher chairs of power will selectively suffice needs. Thereby, Games in name of Democracy will come to end. It therefore calls for serious review of Democratic Structure to make it safe on urgent basis. Politicians for some illicit gains including fierce games for capturing votes have substantially weakened Democracy & its anticipated marvel missions. It’s likely to get birched causing colossal loss in Lacs of Crores in very short time as noticed &already began through various recent scams& frauds.. THUS, WHISTLES BLOWN, with DAM Controversy issue. We need good people , to come forward to serve nation!