With the water level in Mullaperiyar reservoir staying at an alarming 142 feet despite the shutters being opened since the wee hours of Wednesday, the Kerala Chief Minister has written to his counterpart in Tamil Nadu seeking intervention in regulating the water level.
The dam is located in Kerala but it is controlled and operated by the Tamil Nadu government. Pinarayi Vijayan has also said in the letter that Tamil Nadu engineers were not cooperating with Kerala officials to make sure that the water is released in such a way that it does not cause widespread damage.
Calling for EPS's intervention, Pinarayi Vijayan urged his counterpart to ensure that the outflow of water from the dam is more than the inflow, in order to 'steadily bring down the water level to a safer 139 feet.'
The catchment of Mullaperiyar Dam has been receiving torrential rainfall since early morning of 14th August, 2018 resulting in the water level in the dam rising steadily from 136.1 feet at 6 am of August 14 to 140 feet at 2.40 am of August 15, the letter said.
"Because of the heavy rainfall in the state, the water levels at the Mullaperiyar dam has reached 142 feet. When water is suddenly released from 142 feet, there are chances that it will create a lot of damages. So more water needs to be released in an effective manner. Therefore, the water level in the dam should be controlled, taking into consideration, the safety of the dam," CM Pinarayi Vijayan said.
In his letter, the Kerala CM pointed out that authorities started discharging water from the dam through its spillway gates upon the water level reaching 140 feet at a rate of 4490 cusecs with all thirteen shutters open at a level of 1 foot. This is in addition to the tunnel release, he said, adding that the inflow at that point of time was 21690 cusecs.
Saying that the state government has been in touch with officials from TN, but information sharing has been scarce, Pinarayi Vijayan wrote: "It is seen that at several points the discharge was decreased through the spillway gates despite the knowledge of the heavy rainfall in the catchment area of the dam. Sharing of information is not forthcoming on the quantum of discharge through the spillway gates except stating that the authorities would act as per protocol."
Despite several requests from Kerala to increase discharge of water, the "discharge is being managed erratically through the spillway gates, reducing and increasing it at will based on the assessment of the TN field engineers of variation in inflows and with a view to move towards attaining storage at 142 feet," the CM wrote.
The water level should have been controlled at 139 feet by starting controlled water release when it touched 139, the CM said.
"This is highly unfortunate because given the surge in inflows, ideally the storage should not have been allowed to go beyond 140 feet. Even now when the water level has reached 142 feet, the overall discharge from the dam is far below the total inflows which would mean that the SC mandated and allowable storage of 142 feet in the dam is likely to be breached even with complete releases of inflows," Pinarayi Vijayan wrote.
Meanwhile, CM Pinarayi Vijayan also spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Home Minister Rajnath Singh on phone. The CM has also requested the Home Minister to speak to TN CM so that more water could be released from Mullaperiyar dam.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had allowed TN to raise the dam water level from 136 to 142 feet.