File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
The sudden release of water from the Mullaperiyar Dam by the Tamil Nadu government was one of the reasons for the devastating deluge in Kerala, the state government told the Supreme Court on Thursday.
It said that out of a total population of about 3.48 crore, more than 54 lakh or one-sixth of the population of Kerala, had been directly affected by the floods.
The Pinarayi Vijayan government said that in the wake of prior alerts by its engineers, Kerala's Water Resources Secretary had written to her counterpart in Tamil Nadu government and the Chairman of the Supervisory Committee on Mullaperiyar dam, requesting controlled release of water without waiting for the water level in the reservoir to reach its full level.
"Accordingly, the Tamil Nadu Government was requested to gradually release water at least by 139 feet...But no positive assurance in this regard was received from Tamil Nadu even after repeated requests.
"But the sudden release from the Mullaperiyar dam, third largest reservoir in the Periyar Basin, forced us to release more water from Idukki reservoir, downstream of Mullaperiyar, which is one of the causes of this deluge," the affidavit said.
The Mullaperiyar Dam is located on the Western Ghats near Thekkady in Idukki district of Kerala on the Periyar river.
The state government said that to avoid a repeat of such situations, the Supervisory Committee be headed by the Chairman of the Central Water Commission with Secretaries of both the states as members.
This panel should be empowered to take decisions by a majority opinion regarding operations during flood or any similar crisis, it said.
The Kerala government also sought the constitution of a Management committee to manage the day-to-day operations of the Mullaperiyar Dam.
"We propose that this committee be headed by a Chief Engineer/Superintending Engineer of the CWC with both Chief Engineers/Superintending Engineers of the two states," the state government said.
The affidavit was filed in pursuance to August 18 direction of the apex court which had asked the Kerala Chief Secretary to show the steps they have been taken to meet the needs of disaster management, rescue operations and rehabilitation.
Kerala resident Russel Roy had filed a plea seeking, among other things, a direction to Tamil Nadu to manage the water level in the dam as the floods in Kerala have created a havoc.
The top court had earlier ordered the disaster management panel of the Mullaperiyar Dam to urgently decide on lowering the water level.
The direction to consider reducing the water level up to 139 feet from the existing 142 feet had come in the backdrop of Kerala Chief Minister writing to his Tamil Nadu counterpart E K Palaniswami seeking lowering of the water-level in the Mullaperiyar dam in the interest of its safety.
The top court had said the committee may suggest measures before releasing water in the downstream areas to handle the disaster so that the people are not hit by "the catastrophe of the flood".
Tamil Nadu government had opposed the plea with regard to bringing down the water level in the dam, saying the current inflow of water into the dam was 20,000 cusecs and due to rains, it may not be possible to reduce water level immediately.