Why Tamil Nadu Fears a New Dam at Mullaperiyar
Vellore, my home for the last two years in Tamil Nadu lies on the bank of
. This river originates from Karnataka and after flowing for 93 km, enters Andhra Pradesh where it flow for 33 kms and then flows through Tamil Nadu for 222 kms. River Palar has no water for the entire stretch it flows through Tamil Nadu - the reason, being the construction of so many check dams in 33 km stretch in Andhra Pradesh. (I was told by farmers that there are 30 check dams in 33 km stretch in Andhra Pradesh). Palar River
Being specialized in Water/Wastewater Treatment I often get to meet with people residing on the banks of Palar river in Tamil Nadu side. They narrate their struggles for clean drinking water and water to irrigate their crops. They have lost all hopes as they know that neither Tamil Nadu government nor Supreme Court is going to help them. Majority of them no longer depends on agriculture for their livelihood and also excess sand mining and dumping of pollutants from leather industry has made pure drinking water a scare resource for the people along the Palar belt.
Why am I talking about Palar now? Palar and Cauvery are the two interstate rivers that flow into Tamil Nadu from Andra Pradesh and Karnataka respectively. Palar has gone dry and Tamil Nadu is at the mercy of Karnataka government for Cauvery water. Water from Mullaperiyar dam is the only interstate water on which Tamil Nadu government has full control now. It is quite obvious, from the past experience with Cauvery river and Palar river, that Tamil Nadu government and its people fear that once a new dam is constructed and Kerala government takes control of it, they may be deprived of water by the Kerala government. What happens if the Kerala government at that time, after the construction of a new dam, suddenly decides not to give water to Tamil Nadu? The bitter experiences of the past have made the Tamil Nadu government and people not rely any more on promises.
I feel for any amicable solution to Mullaperiyar dam issue, the existing “feeling of betrayal” sense prevailing with the Tamil Nadu government as well with the public of Tamil Nadu needs to be addressed. They have a feeling that they are constantly betrayed by their neighbors with regard to water sharing.
Kerala wanted to protect the people living downstream of the dam in case the existing dam fails and Tamil Nadu wants continuous supply of water. Let a new dam be constructed under Tamil Nadu’s supervision and let Tamil Nadu be given full control of it after it is constructed. Can’t this solve the Mullaperiyar dam issue forever?