Regulate water discharge from Mullaperiyar dam, Kerala CM writes to Stalin

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday wrote to his Tamil Nadu counterpart M K Stalin seeking his intervention to regulate water discharge from Mullaperiyar dam, where the water level has gone beyond 137 ft. Tamil Nadu on Friday noon lifted three shutters of the dam to discharge 534 cusecs of water to Periyar river in Kerala.

Vijayan, in his letter, urged Stalin to give directions to authorities concerned to ensure that the discharge from the dam is more than inflow, taking into consideration the heavy rainfall in the catchment area of the dam, which has been the centre of a decades-long dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Vijayan also wanted Kerala to be informed at least 24 hours in advance about lifting the shutters of the dam, so that the state can take necessary precautionary steps downstream.

Earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu, which is the custodian of the dam situated in Kerala, had announced that it would open three shutters of the dam at 11.30 am as water level in the dam has gone beyond 137 ft – Kerala wants the level to be fixed at 136 ft. By noon, the shutters of the dam were opened by 30 cms. As per the initial plan, 534 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water would be released from the dam and the quantum of discharge would be increased to 100 cusecs in the afternoon.

The water discharged from Mullaperiyar dam would flow to the state’s largest reservoir Idukki, where a blue alert (the first level of warning before lifting shutters) prevails since Wednesday. The water storage level at Idukki dam is at 74.10 per cent of the capacity, which is 10 per cent higher than the storage level on the same day last year.

With the Met Department predicting heavy rains till August 9, the state has put its disaster management machinery on alert.

According to the India Meteorological Department, a low-pressure area is likely to form over northwest and adjoining west-central Bay of Bengal around August 7. Besides, a shear zone exists over south peninsular India between 5.8 km and 7.6 km above mean sea level tilting southwards with height.

Since last Sunday, marked by the current bout of heavy rains, Kerala has reported 20 deaths. Over the last two days, the state has relocated as many as 6,285 persons to 200-odd temporary relief camps from low-lying areas and from the banks of swollen rivers.

The opening of shutters of Peringalkuthu dam had triggered panic along the banks of Chalakudy river in Thrissur district on Thursday, leading to the shifting of several families. However, as rain subsided on Thursday night, the water level in the river did not cross the danger level on Friday morning. Meanwhile, a flood-like situation prevailed in the Kuttanad region in Alappuzha, where several families have been shifted out of low-lying areas.

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