India

Mullaperiyar row: Tamil Nadu DMK objects Vijayan's stand on issue

16 Jul 2016 | By Ramya

Tamil Nadu's Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party expressed disagreement over Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan's opinion on the Mullaperiyar dam issue.

DMK Chief Karunanidhi objected the political contradiction of Kerala's CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front government.

Recently, Vijayan stated his government supports the construction of a replacement to the 120-year-old dam.

Accusing Vijayan of taking a U-turn, Karunanidhi said his contradictory statement would create unnecessary problems.

In context: Kerala-Tamil Nadu Mullaperiyar Dam dispute

IntroductionAbout the Mullaperiyar Dam

Mullaperiyar Dam is a masonry gravity dam built on the River Mullayar and its tributary named Periyar in Kerala.

The dam was constructed during 1887-95 by Colonel John Pennycuick.

Though it entirely lies in Kerala, Tamil Nadu's Public Works Department maintains and operates the dam.

Its water is diverted to Tamil Nadu, which entirely depends on the River Periyar for fulfilling its irrigation needs.

HistoryA 999-year lease agreement

Maharaja of Travancore (Kerala), Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma, signed a 999-year lease agreement for the Mullaperiyar Dam with the then British Secretary of State for India for Periyar Irrigation Works on 29 October 1886.

The British Secretary was granted full rights, authority, and liberty to construct the dam; 8000 acres for building the reservoir and 100 acres for the dam were allotted.

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Renewal of the agreement

Post-independence, the Government of Kerala, said the Mullaperiyar agreement was invalid as it was signed between Travancore and the British Raj. It was renewed in 1970, during then Kerala Chief Minister C Achutha Menon's government. Since 1970, Tamil Nadu has been operating the dam.
The inter-state dam dispute

DisputeThe inter-state dam dispute

There has been a dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala regarding the Mullaperiyar agreement's fairness and its safety.

In 1979, after an earthquake, Kerala claimed that the dam wasn't safe; it was located in an earthquake-prone area and developed leaks.

In 1998, Kerala opposed Tamil Nadu's proposal to raise the dam's water level; the case was tried in Kerala and Madras High Courts.

2006Supreme Court allows Tamil Nadu to increase water level

The Mullaperiyar dam controversy reached the Supreme Court on 27 February 2006.

The apex court permitted Tamil Nadu to increase the dam's water storage level to 152 feet.

In response, Kerala enacted the Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006 for ensuring the safety of risky dams; according to the Act, Mullaperiyar's second schedule was endangered and its height was fixed to 136 feet.

2006-12Timeline of important events

2006: The SC upheld Tamil Nadu's plea for increasing the dam's level and ruled Kerala's Act 'unconstitutional'.

2011: Kerala witnessed massive protests demanding Mullaperiyar dam's decommissioning and a replacement to it; Centre's intervention was requested.

2012: The SC rejected Kerala's plea to oppose an expert committee's data that said the dam was safe; Kerala said the SC didn't look into the safety of people.

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Supreme Court rejects review petition

In 2014, Kerala filed a petition in the SC against its verdict to reject Kerala's Irrigation Act. The then-Kerala CM Oommen Chandy said their policy was "water for Tamil Nadu and safety for Kerala." Upholding its previous ruling, the SC rejected the petition.

2016Kerala CM Vijayan takes a U-turn

Before assuming office, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that he would solve the Mullaperiyar dam dispute amicably with Tamil Nadu.

He said his government wouldn't take a stand similar to that of the previous Congress-United Democratic Front's government on Mullaperiyar dam.

However, Vijayan later signaled that there was "no change in the demand for a new dam" to replace the 120-year old dam.

16 Jul 2016Mullaperiyar row: Tamil Nadu DMK objects Vijayan's stand on issue