The Kerala Water Resources Department will review the safety aspects of all dams under it.

A conference convened by Minister for Water Resources P. J. Joseph took the decision in view of the overtopping of the Pazhassi Dam early this week. It decided to replace all the shutters of the dam urgently and entrust the work to public sector undertaking Kerala Electrical and Allied Engineering Company. Rs. 7 crore had been sanctioned for the work.

According to this comprehensive compilation of the large dams in India prepared by Central Water Commission, there are 4818 completed large dams and 375 large dams are under construction.

The Mullaperiyar Agitation Council, which is spearheading an agitation for a new dam in Mullaperiyar on Monday termed the Supreme Court order giving permission for conducting the maintenance work of the dam as only a “temporary solutution”, and said that it hoped the final judgement will allay the fears of the people living on the downstream of the age-old structure.

He said that by merely giving permission for conducting the maintenance work will not help in the long-run in consideration of the age-old structure. However, with the monsoon season already set in, a temporary solution was needed even as the downstream area is ill-equipped to deal a calamity-like situation.

Dam safe for increasing water level, says report

The Supreme Court will consider on Monday the report of the Empowered Committee — headed by the former Chief Justice of India, A.S. Anand — which has said the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam (MPD) “is hydrologically, structurally and seismically safe for raising the water level from 136 feet to 142 feet after carrying out certain repairs.” On May 4, a Constitution Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, R.M. Lodha, Deepak Verma, C.K. Prasad and Anil R. Dave asked the Registry to supply copies of the report to the Union government, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and directed the matter be listed for further hearing to July 23.

With the Supreme Court (SC) to take up the Mullaperiyar case for hearing on July 23, Kerala is gearing up to contest the findings of the SC-appointed Empowered Committee (EC) with special emphasis on the panel’s conclusion that the dam was safe.

Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph on Monday left for New Delhi for a special session on Tuesday with Harish Salve, Kerala’s senior counsel on the issue. According to sources, the State, though relieved with the EC’s acceptance of the State’s proposal for a new dam, was still firm on opposing the other findings in its report, including the conclusion that the existing dam was hydrologically, technically, and structurally safe.

People affected by the Omkareshwar dam project sat on an indefinite ‘ jal satyagr aha ’ against the Madhya Pradesh government’s decision of filling up the dam up to a height of 193 meters.

The protesters, gathered under the banner of the Narmada Bachao Andolan in Ghogalgaon village of Khandwa district, set up a camp just above 189 meters, the current water level of the dam, and commenced the satyagrah a , resolving to not budge until the government fulfilled their rightful demands of relief and rehabilitation, including land-based compensation.

Kerala will fight the Empowered Committee report that the 116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is safe and continue to press its case for a new dam at a Supreme Court hearing, scheduled to be held on July 23, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Water Resources Minister P J Joseph told the Assembly on Friday.

“The empowered committee which concluded that the dam was indeed safe has also proposed a new dam. We have to highlight the positive side and strive to achieve it,” Chandy said.

Maintaining that a Supreme Court appointed panel on Mullaperiyar Dam had accepted Kerala's demand for a new reservoir, chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday said the state, which is locked in a row with Tamil Nadu on the issue, would bring it to the court's notice.

"The (Supreme Court appointed) Empowered Committee has accepted the idea of a new dam. We will be highlighting that in the apex court", Chandy told the assembly.

The Kerala government was continuing to prevent free movement of construction materials required to fill up holes in the Mullaperiyar dam, said Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko here on Thursday.

Be it a water dispute or an environmental issue that affected people of Tamil Nadu, the MDMK stood in the forefront and turned it into a people's movement, he said.

Minister says letter was sent on Saturday

In response to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's allegation on Sunday that the Kerala government was preventing officials of her State from closing the holes drilled for tests on the Mullaperiyar dam, Kerala has clarified that it had written to Tamil Nadu on Saturday stating categorically that it had no objection to the work, a stance it had made clear even two months ago.