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Mullaperiyar dam isssue

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Mullaperiyar dam isssue:


Context:

The Supreme Court has issued a warning to Tamil Nadu in the Mullaperiyar case.

What did the court say?

  • Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary will be “personally responsible” and “appropriate action” will be taken on failure to give information on the ‘rule curve’ for the Mullaperiyar dam to the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Committee.
  • The Supervisory Committee should issue directions or take steps to address the three core safety issues — the monitoring and performance of the instrumentation of the dam, finalising the ‘rule curve’ and fixing the gate operating schedule — and submit a compliance report in four weeks.

What’s the issue?

The Kerala government has accused Tamil Nadu of adopting an “obsolete” gate operation schedule dating back to 1939. It has also expressed apprehensions about the lack of proper supervision of water levels in the dam located along the Periyar tiger reserve.

What is the rule curve?

The ‘rule curve’ in a dam decides the fluctuating storage levels in a reservoir. The gate opening schedule of a dam is based on the ‘rule curve’. It is part of the “core safety” mechanism in a dam.

Mullaperiyar Dam- what you need to know?

Although the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu following an 1886 lease indenture for 999 years (the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement) that was signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the Secretary of State for India for the Periyar Irrigation works.

  • Constructed between 1887 and 1895, the dam redirected the river to flow towards the Bay of Bengal, instead of the Arabian Sea and provide water to the arid rain region of Madurai in Madras Presidency.
  • The dam is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers inKerala’s Idukki district.

What Tamil Nadu says?

Tamil Nadu claims that although it has undertaken measures to strengthen the dam, the Kerala government has blocked any attempt to raise the reservoir water level – resulting in losses for Madurai farmers.

Kerala’s arguments:

Kerala, however, highlights fears of devastation by residents living downstream in the earthquake-prone district of Idukki.

Scientists have argued that if there is an earthquake in the region measuring above six on the Richter scale, the lives of over three million people will come under grave danger.

Mullaperiyar_Dam

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Locations of Mullar and Periyar rivers.
  2. Location of Mullaperiyar dam?
  3. Who manages the dam?
  4. About the 1886 Periyar Lake Lease Agreement.
  5. About the Interstate River Water Disputes Act, 1956 (IRWD Act).

Mains Link:

Examine why the Mullaperiyar dam issue has become bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Examine if the union government can help resolve this issue.

Sources: the Hindu.