With water levels touching the 142 ft mark, authorities raised as many as nine of the 13 shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam on Tuesday, November 30. The Kerala government, Idukki administatation and residents have alleged that Tamil Nadu did not give proper warning before releasing water.
Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine said the Tamil Nadu government would be asked to avoid releasing water from Mullaperiyar dam at night as was done in the early hours of Tuesday. The minister, while speaking to the media, said Tamil Nadu informed Kerala only at around 2.30 am that it would be opening two shutters of the dam due to heavy rains in its catchment area.
Although Tamil Nadu authorities resumed tunnel discharge on Sunday evening, in addition to raising one shutter apart from shutter V3 which has been kept open since November 23, water levels rose above 141.9 ft by Monday night. Following heavy rainfall through Monday night, water levels had risen forcing the authorities to release the surplus water.
Tamil Nadu PWD raised more shutters as the water in the dam reached 142 feet, and around 1.6 lakh litres of water per second was released after nine shutters of the reservoir were opened. As a result, the water level of the Periyar went up and reached close to the danger mark.
The authorities said that five of the shutters were raised by 60 cm while the remaining four shutters were raised by 30 cm to release the excess water into the Periyar river.
The minister said the Tamil Nadu government and the Central Water Commission would be informed that releasing water at night like this could affect the rescue operations or preparations in Kerala and therefore, the same be avoided.
Syam Sivan, a resident of Churakkulam Aatoram in Vandiperiyar in Idukki said that they knew about the dam opening only after the water reached near their home. â€śThe water reached here around 3.45 pm and the official announcement came at around 8.30 am. Today, they released a minimum quantity of water and if more water is released, our homes will get washed away.â€ť He said that their demand every time has been that prior information should be given before opening of the dam, but the officials failed to ensure it.
P N Sebastian, another resident in Vallakkadavu, the downstream area of Mullaperiyar, said that the people in the area were in deep sleep when the water reached their homes. â€śIt was an unexpected incident. The official announcement came hours after the opening of the dam. The sudden opening caused large-scale damage to the people on the river banks,â€ť he added.
The British-era masonry gravity dam is managed by the Tamil Nadu government although it is geographically situated in Kerala. The dam is at the centre of a row between the states, with Kerala keen on constructing a new dam while Tamil Nadu has been opposing the proposal.
With IANS and PTI inputs