Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam on Sunday said Kerala cannot 'interfere' on the regulation of flow from the reservoir after the neighbouring state expressed concerns over the water level in Mullaperiyar dam nearing the contentious 142 feet.
"Tamil Nadu has to utilise the flows of Mullaperiyar dam to meet the entire requirements of Vaigai Basin depending on its own catchment and diversion of water from the reservoir," Panneerselvam said in a letter to his Kerala counterpart Oommen Chandy, two days after the latter had sought his intervention for reduction of the water level.
Expressing concern over the safety of people living downstream, Chandy had said the water level could be reduced by diverting the excess waters to Vaigai Reservoir as was done in previous years.
The dam is located in Idduki district of Kerala but is under the control of Tamil Nadu. "The operation of Mullaperiyar Reservoir is managed in such a way as to obtain optimum utilisation of the available water considering the probable monsoon rainfall and the need," he said.
Therefore, the Kerala government cannot 'interfere' with the regulation of flow from the dam, Panneerselvam said. Tamil Nadu had already informed Kerala that the dam is "structurally", "hydrologically", "seismically" safe to initially store water upto 142 feet and that the neighbouring state's contention to restrict the level to 136 feet was against the decree of the Supreme Court order, he said.
The Supreme Court appointed Supervisory Committee in the meeting held early this month decided that there was apparently no immediate justification to open the sluice gates of the dam, he said.
"The increase in water level in the dam from June is 'gradual and steady' and not sudden. The rainfall in the catchment area is also not heavy," he said. Pointing out that the representation made by Kerala to the Chairman of the Supervisory Committee on the dam on November 12 was examined by Tamil Nadu Government, Panneerselvam said a detailed report was sent to the Chairman along with a copy of it to the Kerala Chief Secretary.
In his letter, he urged Chandy to extend full co-operation to "implement the orders of the Constitution Bench of Supreme Court to store water upto 142 ft in Mullaperiyar Dam."
The two states are locked in a dispute over increasing water level in the dam from 136 feet to 142 feet with Kerala citing safety concerns. The apex court had in May last allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the level to 142 feet, rejecting Kerala's objections.