Mullaperiyar Dam

The Mullaperiyar Dam is a significant engineering structure located in the Indian state of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is situated in the Western Ghats mountain range and spans across the Periyar River, near the town of Thekkady in Kerala’s Idukki district. The dam is one of the oldest and most controversial dams in India due to its interstate water-sharing dispute and concerns about its structural integrity.

Key features and information about the Mullaperiyar Dam:

  1. History: The dam was constructed during the British colonial period and was completed in 1895. It was designed and built by British engineer John Pennycuick to divert water from the Periyar River to the arid areas of Madurai in Tamil Nadu, primarily for irrigation purposes.
  2. Purpose: The primary purpose of the Mullaperiyar Dam is to store and regulate water for irrigation and drinking water supply to the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.
  3. Controversy: The dam has been the center of a long-standing dispute between the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of water and concerns about the safety of the dam. Kerala argues that the dam’s reservoir level should be reduced to ensure safety, as it is located in a seismically active zone. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, asserts that the dam is safe and advocates maintaining the water level at a higher level to meet their agricultural needs.
  4. Safety concerns: The Mullaperiyar Dam is a masonry gravity dam, which means it is made of stone and mortar. There have been concerns about the dam’s structural integrity due to its age and the seismic activity in the region. Several studies and expert committees have been commissioned to assess the dam’s safety, and it remains a topic of ongoing debate and discussion.
  5. Periyar Tiger Reserve: The dam’s reservoir created the Periyar Lake, which is an integral part of the Periyar Tiger Reserve, a well-known wildlife sanctuary in India.
  6. Maximum water level: The Supreme Court of India has allowed the storage level of the Mullaperiyar Dam to be raised to 142 feet (43 meters) from the earlier limit of 136 feet (41 meters) based on various safety measures and guidelines.

The Mullaperiyar Dam issue has been a source of tension between Kerala and Tamil Nadu for several decades, and efforts to find a permanent resolution to the dispute continue. Despite the disagreements, the dam and the surrounding region remain an essential part of the ecological and agricultural landscape of both states.

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