The ongoing Mullaperiyar row between Kerala and Tamil Nadu is occupying the headlines once again.
The two states have been engaged in a long legal battle over the increasing water levels in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 feet to 142 feet objecting to it on grounds of safety of around four million people in the downstream areas. The Kerala government has been concerned about the situation for a while saying that the reduction in the drawing of water by Tamil Nadu was the reason for the current rise in the levels. Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy had moved the apex court for lowering the water level that has risen to 142 feet; but the Court rejected the plea and allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water levels up to the same. The Chief Minister had also written to his Tamil Nadu counterpart O Panneerselvam urging his intervention for reduction of water level, which is nearing a contentious mark.
Although the 119 year old dam is located in Idduki district of Kerala, it is under the control of Tamil Nadu government who had entered into a 999 year lease agreement with the then Maharaja of Travancore. It gave rights over the waters to irrigate the farmlands in the then Madras Presidency area and was built by the British. But Kerala has come forward citing that the dam was too old and posed a threat to the people living in the region asserting that the dam needs to be rebuilt. It had also pointed out the cracks in the dam that occurred due to an earthquake that took place 35 years ago. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, opposes renegotiation in the matter and construction of a new dam saying that it was repaired in 1979 and walls strengthened enabling it to hold more water than the current level of 136 feet.
Tamil Nadu has therefore been dominating Kerala due to the agreement and the government had not been able to do much in the matter always failing to present its stance and producing the right evidences. Despite the warnings by the experts and analytical reports, Tamil Nadu has been producing hollow excuses and prolonging the matter turning it into their favour. The issue would only be solved through repairing or rebuilding the dam. The lives of the people living near the region is at stake and the government should be following appropriate steps to protect the lives already endangered instead of engaging in the futile battle of words and protests and wasting the time.