You may be hearing the name,Mullaperiyar , for the past few days…It’s not only a problem for keralites, it’s also concerns you. Because Mullaperiyar is a dam in our neighbouring district and if it breaks (It will happen soon) you are going to die along with 3.5 million people…. So please understand the problem…………..
The Mullaperiyar Dam issue has been in the news recently for some life-threatening reasons. When an integral part of a cultural state is on the verge of being demolished forever by natural forces, one can only imagine the plight of the people who could get involved in such a catastrophe. Here we are talking about none other than the state of Kerala which is known as ‘God’s own country’ and is in a critical situation where the breakage of a dam can result in the non-existence of a major part of the state. The shocking factor is that such a disaster can very well be avoided if the neighbouring state called Tamil Nadu shows some humanity. Before getting into more details about the disaster that the Mullaperiyar dam can cause, let us look at some basics about the dam.
The Mullaperiyar dam is a gravity dam which was built between 1887 and 1895 during the time of British rule in India. The dam was erected at the meeting point of two major rivers namely Periyar and Mullaiyar, thus obtaining the name Mullaperiyar. The main reason for its construction by the British was to divert the abundance of the Periyar river water towards the state of Tamil Nadu. This decision was taken because Tamil Nadu was lacking enough water for its entire state and was depending on the Vaigai river which provides very less quantity of water for irrigation and drinking purposes. The speciality of Mullaperiyar dam is that it is the only prevailing gravity dam in the world which is made of lime stone and surkhi, which is a mixture of sugar and calcium oxide. At present, the dam’s condition has been found to be very weak as it is already 116 years old and can break any minute ultimately flooding most parts of Kerala and resulting in the death of millions of innocent lives as well as the destruction of property and important buildings.
The interesting part about the Mullaperiyar dam is that though it is located within Kerala and is also completely owned by the state, the authority to operate the dam lies with the neighbouring state Tamil Nadu. This kind of agreement has eventually resulted in such a dilemma that one state has become totally dependant on the other’s decision for the safety of its own people. The government of Tamil Nadu is not giving the permission to Kerala for reducing the level of water in the dam as they fear that they will get less water in such a situation. The dam is almost 116 years old now and has reached a level where it cannot withstand too much water anymore. The major concern is that the Mullaperiyar dam is situated on an earthquake prone zone and even a minor earthquake can result in the breakage of the dam. If such a disaster occurs, another alarming factor is that the water that would burst out from the dam will move towards the Idukki dam which could also break in case it cannot withstand all that water, the aftermath of which can be horrifying. The best solution for this problem is not in increasing the level of the dam which is already leaking in many parts. Building a new dam altogether is also not a good decision at present because this will take a lot of time. The only thing that can be done to prevent a disaster is to reduce the level of water that is present in the Mullaperiyar dam. While Kerala suggested the construction of a new dam, Tamil Nadu claims that this is just an excuse made by Kerala to acquire the complete operational authority over the Mullaperiyar dam.
What will be the aftermath of the failure of the Mullaperiyar dam? It can wash out four districts of the state of Kerala namely Kottayam, Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Idukki after which the state of Kerala itself will be divided into two different lands. This calamity will mean the death of more than 4 million people residing in Kerala. Other than this, it will also mean the end of a culture which will affect Kerala’s tourism and ultimately the state’s economy also. The entire state of Kerala will be filled with darkness as it depends completely on the Idukki hydro electric power plant for electricity. The amusing aspect is that in the event of the dam disaster, Tamil Nadu will not receive anymore water from the Periyar river for its irrigational and drinking purposes as the entire water would be washed away into the Arabian ocean. At present the case regarding this issue is circling within the supreme court and the politicians of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Everyone is looking at political and personal gains whereas no one is actually bothered about the human lives that are in danger. The whole issue shows that the phenomenon called humanity has disappeared from earth.
Why the Mullaperiyar dam is not safe?
The main thing we have to consider when looking about the safeness of Mullaperiyar dam is its age. The dam’s age become 115 in 2011 and is the one of the oldest dam in Kerala. A special fact which must be kept in mind that, no major reconstruction work has been done on the dam in this long 115 years. The next thing is the materials used for constructing the dam. The dam is purely built with stone and Surki where Surki is a mixture of sugar and calcium oxide. Amazing fact is that Mullaperiyar is the only existing dam in India which is made with Surki. All other dams are reconstructed by authorities for the sake of people but Mullaperiyar dam still remains as a danger to all Keralites.
There is no drainage gallery in Mullaperiyar dam. So the pressure due to the water will be high in Mullaperiyar dam. Mullaperiyar dam doesn’t contain any construction blocks and it is arranged in a single block. This kind of architecture in Mullaperiyar dam will create wide spread of cracks in dams. Also there are several cracks in the Mullaperiyar dam due to the flowing of Surkey from dam. According to the authorized details 30.4 tones of surkey are losing from Mullaperiyar dam and it is estimated that about 1500 tones of Surkey have been lost from Mullaperiyar dam in 50 years. The leakage of dam was found in the starting stage itself. The first leakage was found in 1922 and then in 1928-35, 1961-65. The leak was temporarily closed by using cement.
No authorized earthquake study has done in Mullaperiyar so far. Recently some earthquakes in Idukki district has caused serious threat to dam. It is predicted that dam is situated in the earthquake region. Any mild earthquake can cause cracks in Mullaperiyar dam and if the crack is present inside the dam possibility of seeing the crack is rare. These cracks will become big in rainy season where the pressure of water will be high and may cause the destruction of dam. The lack of observing instruments adds the danger of Mullaperiyar dam.
Usually “Dam break analysis” is done along with the construction of dam. This is an analysis done for predicting the possible destruction caused by the destruction of dams. The abstract of saving people from flood will be analyzed in this technique. In modern science this technique is done with the help of computer software Geographical Information System (GIS). But unfortunately no such study has never been conducted in the case of Mullaperiyar dam.
Possible disaster caused by the destruction of Mullaperiyar dam
If Mullaperiyar dam get destroyed the world will be witnessing one of the major destruction. Heavy flood will occur in villages such as Vallakadavu, Vandiperiyar, Keerikkara, Mlamala, Chappathu, upputhara, Ayyappan Kovil, Irattiyar. These villages will almost sink in water.
If the destruction occurs in rainy season then about 4430 lakh cubic meter of water will flow into the Idukki dam which is situated just 50 Km away from Mullaperiyar dam. Even though the Idukki dam is constructed for accommodating the water of Mullaperiyar, no-one can give promise that what will happen in Idukki dam with the destruction of Mullaperiyar dam. The capacity of Idukki dam is 1996.30 million cubic water. So with the heavy flow of soil and water into Idukki dam may cause the destruction of Idukki dam and may causes heavy flood in shores of entire Periyar river. The peoples in the districts like Idukki, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Alappuzha will be effected by the destruction of these dams. Also there is a danger of contaminated disease in these region. The biodiversity of Periyar wildlife sanctuary will be effected with the destruction of Mullaperiyar dam. Periyar wildlife sanctuary is a hot spot of many animals and plants. With the flood heavy destruction will be caused to these animal and plants resulting in the destruction of the biodiversity of entire forest.
Controversy between Tamilnadu and Kerala in the case of Mullaperiyar dam
Usually the dams are re-constructed after 60 years. The government will get the expense and huge profit from these years. Even though Mullaperiyar dam has reached the double age it still exists as a big danger for entire people in Kerala.
Actually Mullaperiyar dam was constructed based on the lease agreement in 1886 between Travancore Princely State and British Presidency of Madras which allow to divert water of Mullaperiyar to British Presidency of Madras (Now Tamil Nadu). The agreement was for 999 years. But after independence entire agreement become lapsed. The agreement was resigned in 1970 between Kerala government and Tamilnadu.
In 1979 Kerala government raised questions about the safeness of Mullaperiyar dam after a minor earthquake in Idukki. Also a state agency reported that the Mullaperiyar dam cannot withstand an earthquake with magnitude 6 on Richter scale. After several controversies Tamil Nadu government decided to reduce the storage level to 136 feet. After several repair Tamil Nadu suggested that storage level can be raised to full 152 feet.
Tamil Nadu main point which is used in Mullaperiyar controversies is the lack of water in Tamil Nadu. They argued that about 40,000 crores have been lost due to the destruction of crops between 1980 and 2005 which is the period when height of the dam was reduced to 136 feet. By the appeal of Tamil Nadu in 2006, Supreme Court allows Tamil Nadu to increase the storage level to 142 feet. But Kerala counter this by “Dam Safety Act”. But the Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court and a notice was send to Kerala. Finally Supreme Court asked to settle the disputes between the states but the problems never end.
In the mean time Kerala thought about constructing a new dam and environment clearance was obtained from Ministry of Environment and Forests of Government in 2009 for conducting surveys. The survey was conducted and three spots were reported. Tamil Nadu tackled this by arguing that creation of new dam is a hidden agenda to keep dam with Kerala.
We know that Internet and social sharing websites have a very good influence in modern world. They play a good part in bringing social issues to public. “Save Mullaperiyar Dam, Save Kerala Facebòòk Campaign” is a Facebook page which has got a good support from all parts of the world. This group has also done ‘Save Mullaperiyar’ – ‘Save Kerala’ movement in Marine drive on a 25th November. If you want to support the movement login your Facebook account and join the group and be a part of Save Mullaperiyar dam movement. Also don’t forget to use Facebook like and other social networking tools in the bottom of our page because by using these tools you can spread the knowledge of disaster caused by the destruction of Mullaperiyar dam and be a part of Save Kerala Save Mullaperiyar movement.
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