Kerala takes first steps on new Mullaperiyar dam


Thiruvananthapuram : Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan Tuesday said the state government has begun taking steps to construct a new dam at Mullaperiyar.

Support TwoCircles

“In 1979, the Central Water Resources Commission had identified the place where the new dam is to be built and we have now asked our officials to go ahead to prepare a project report for the new dam to be constructed in the place that the Commission has suggested,” said Achuthanandan to reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting here.

On July 23, the state government had decided to construct a new dam on the Periyar river at Mullaperiyar in Idukki district, about 240 km from here on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, as various experts had said the present dam was old and weak.

Kerala has expressed grave concern over the safety of the present dam ever since the heavy monsoon rains this year led to the water level in the dam crossing the danger mark of 135 feet (41 metres).

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the dam built under an agreement signed in 1886 between the then maharaja of Travancore and the British administration. It granted the then Madras Presidency the right to construct and maintain the dam and divert the water to irrigate arid lands in the Madurai region.

Thus, while the dam is located in Kerala, it serves Tamil Nadu. In recent years, Tamil Nadu has demanded that the storage capacity of the dam be raised from 136 feet (41.5 metres) to 142 feet (43 metres) to meet the increasing demand of water for irrigation.

Several rounds of discussions between the two governments have failed to yield any positive result and with today’s decision the relations between the two states are likely to worsen.