Periyar dam: Kerala to move Supreme Court as Tamil Nadu continues to release water

Kerala Minister for Water Resources, Roshy Augustine said on Tuesday that the state would file an interim application in the Supreme Court seeking urgent intervention in the Mullaiperiyar dam issue
Periyar dam: Kerala to move Supreme Court as Tamil Nadu continues to release water
The dam is the cause of a decades-old dispute between the two states (Image Courtesy: PTI)

Thiruvananthapuram

Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan, speaking to the media, said the Kerala Chief Minister should break his silence on the issue and answer why his government was being "inactive" and not opposing Tamil Nadu's actions of releasing water from the dam late at night.
"There is a monitoring committee in place on the directions of the Supreme Court. The committee had decided that Mullaiperiyar shutters would not be raised without sufficient warning in advance to Kerala. It was also decided that water will not be released at night.
"However, for the last one week, Tamil Nadu has been releasing water at night. The first time it happened, the CM shot off a letter to his counterpart in TN. Despite that, TN continued to release water at night and the plight of the people in the downstream areas was tragic. Every time the dam's shutters are raised at night, water enters their homes," Satheesan said.
He said the Left government was "not lifting a finger" to help the distressed residents along the Periyar, was "sitting with its hands tied" and appeared to be "scared of something or someone".
"Why did the Kerala government allow cutting of trees along the Periyar? Why did it permit the strengthening of the Baby dam? Why take decisions in the monitoring committee which favour Tamil Nadu? Why weaken Kerala's case in the apex court on Mullaiperiyar issue?
"The CM has to answer these questions. He cannot think he can run away from these questions by keeping silent. Presently when people are in such distress, the CM needs to break his silence, air his views, take decisions and implement them," Satheesan said.
Residents living downstream of the dam, facing sleepless nights for over a week due to the release of water from Mullaiperiyar, said they were tired of living like this in constant fear.
The residents said that children are unable to go to school and at night they do not know what to do when water suddenly enters their homes without any warning.
"Where do we run to with our kids and elderly family members and our belongings when water suddenly enters our homes? We cannot continue to live like this. We will end our lives if this continues to happen. The Chief Minister should do something. He should speak to his counterpart in Tamil Nadu," a resident told the media.
He said the residents come to know of the dam being opened only through news flashes on TV channels and after the water has entered their homes, police vehicles reach there blowing their horns and thereafter, the "announcement van" comes along, telling people to evacuate.
"This is what the district administration is doing," another resident said.
Even Kerala Water Resources Minister Roshy Augustine was criticised by residents, who asked why he was continuing to be in that position when he was unable to do anything to resolve the issue.
Meanwhile, Kerala MPs, including Kerala Congress (M) chairman Jose K Mani, raised the Mullaperiyar issue and protested outside the Parliament, seeking the intervention of the Prime Minister in the matter.
Some Kerala MPs also raised the issue in Parliament, requesting the PM's intervention. A shutter of Idukki's Cheruthoni dam was opened on Tuesday morning as the water level in the Idukki reservoir continued to rise due to heavy rains in its catchment areas and opening of shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam, official sources said here.
Tamil Nadu, earlier in the day, closed eight shutters of the Mullaperiyar Dam hours after those were opened, causing heavy flow of water in Periyar river on Monday night.
However, one shutter of the 126-year-old dam was not shut and it was raised by 10 cm, regulating the flow of water.
The release of a huge quantity of water from the dam on Monday night created panic among people living in the settlement areas on the banks of river Periyar in the district as the water started entering their houses.
Tamil Nadu had opened nine shutters of the Mullaperiyar dam on Monday night to release 12654.09 cusecs of water in view of the rising water level in the reservoir and shut down three of them after 10 PM.
Augustine, who was present at Idukki, had told reporters that rescue forces have already been deployed based on information received from the Tamil Nadu government.
He had said that this issue of water being released at night would be raised before the Supreme Court.
The minister had also said that he will be present at Idukki to help with the rescue efforts and to persuade people to evacuate to camps wherever necessary.

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