As the water level in Kerala's dams is rising due to heavy rains in the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday, August 5 shot off a letter to his Tamil Nadu counterpart M K Stalin seeking regulation of water in Mullaperiyar dam. "I would like to bring to your kind attention to the precarious situation at Mullaperiyar dam catchment area and seek your urgent intervention to regulate the water discharge, so as to steadily bring down the water level to a safe point in the light of the IMD predictions.”
With Kerala experiencing heavy rainfall over the past few days, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red warning in eight districts, including Idukki. In view of this, CM Pinarayi has flagged that the water level in Mullaperiyar dam is nearing 136 feet and if the situation persists, there will be a drastic rise in the water level in the dam due to heavy inflow.
Pinarayi has asked the Tamil Nadu CM to give directions to the authorities concerned to ensure that the discharge from the dam is more than the inflow, considering the heavy rainfall in the catchment area of Mullaperiyar dam.
“I also request that arrangements may be made to intimate Government of Kerala about the opening of the shutters at least 24 hours in advance so as to take precautionary measures for ensuring the safety of the people residing in the downstream of Mullaperiyar dam,” Pinarayi said.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam, built under an 1886 accord between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British regime.
Though the dam is located in Kerala, it is owned, maintained and operated by Tamil Nadu and the former has for long been demanding de-commissioning of the dam that has developed cracks.
While the Kerala government said that the dam is posing a serious threat to lives and property in five districts of the state taking into account its age, Tamil Nadu wants the water level of the dam to be increased.
Meanwhile, thousands of residents in central and north Kerala districts were evacuated on Thursday after monsoon rains caused floodwaters to rise in various rivers. A total of 14 relief camps have been set up across the state and 5,849 people belonging to 1,732 families have been moved to the camps.
A statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said that six major dams -- Ponmudi, Lower Periyar, Kallarkutty, Erattayar and Kundala in Idukki and Moozhiyar in Pathanamthitta districts have reached red alert water storage levels.
The CMO statement also advised the public to completely avoid night travel to hilly areas, those living near rivers, lakes and disaster prone areas to shift to relief camps, avoid going near rivers with high water levels and asked them to keep emergency kits ready at homes.
It further said fake news should not be spread and for emergency help, the district disaster management authority's toll-free number 1077 was available.
According to the latest update from the Kerala government, 46 people have lost their lives from July 29 to August 4 in connection with rain-related incidents.
Meanwhile, the weather office has predicted widespread rains in Kerala till August 8.
With agency inputs