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  Articles        T. P. Gopinath

Mullaperiyar Dam and a Terrified Kerala.
A Dam in Kerala is threatening Kerala but they can't decommission it.

T. P. Gopinath; First posted on Dec 01, 2011.

 Mullaperiyar Dispute: Latest News & Articles. (New part of the article)


Mullaperiyar Dam in the Idukki district of Kerala is 116 years old. It is built using century old technology and materials. The engineer who built it called for its decommissioning after a maximum of fifty years.

There has been serious concern among people of the state of Kerala about the Dams weak state and the ongoing mild to moderate tremors in the region around the dam. However Tamil Nadu who is controlling the dam and using the water from the dam is unconcerned and says dam was strengthened.

Today, as the water level rises in the dam during monsoons and tremors keep coming back, frightened Keralites does not know what to do. Kerala Govt. is running from pillar to post and there is no solution yet in sight with Tamil Nadu strongly saying that Keralites are simply panicking and that the dam is doing fine.

"Whenever a terror attack or security breach happens in our country, we point fingers at our neighbouring country. But here is a problem that can take the lives of so many innocent Indians, which can be stopped. And what exactly is our political leadership in this country doing? Nothing."
-  Quoted from a Rediff Article linked elsewhere on this page .

Facts of the Matter – Mullaperiyar Dam:

Type of Dam

Masonry gravity

Materials used in construction

It is made with lime stone and surkhi (a mixture of sugar and calcium oxide), a construction technology of 19th century.

Location – Height

It is located 881 m (2,890 ft) above mean sea level.

Location - Place

Cardamom Hills of Western Ghats in Thekkadi, Idukki District of Kerala, India.

Who constructed it?

Constructed between 1887 and 1895 by the British Government

Why was it constructed?

To divert water from the western side of the Western Ghats to eastwards to Madras Presidency area (approx. five districts of the present-day Tamil Nadu).

Height and Length

It has a height of 53.6 m (176 ft) from the foundation and length of 365.7 m (1,200 ft).

What are the attractions around the Dam

Periyar National Park, Thekkady, one of Kerala's major tourist centres is located around the dam's reservoir.

Who owns the Dam and the area around it?

Even though the dam and the river are fully owned by and located in Kerala, the dam is controlled and operated on a period lease for 999 years by Tamil Nadu.

Water Level & Dispute

120 feet is wanted by Kerala
142 feet is wanted by Tamil Nadu
Present level in Dec, 2011 is somewhere around 136 feet. As the water level recedes and increase during rain, people get more worried about the safety.

The Main Dispute Kerala says that the Dam is weak and needs urgent decommissioning. At least they want the water level to be maintained at 120 feet. Tamil Nadu says that the Dam is strong for many more years and Kerala is unnecessarily panicking.
How the water is used Most of the water flows into Tamil Nadu for drinking and irrigation through a tunnel on the Western Ghats. Five districts in Tamil Nadu are known to use this water. Kerala has a mere one generator running for electricity generation using the Dam water  - some reports say.
What does Kerala get for their benevolence? 500 times less money compared to what other states in India charge for the water they supply to the neighbouring states.

Highlight of the Mullaperiyar Dam

This is one of the only Dam still standing in the world which is Gravity Dam type made using Lime Stone and Surkhi. Now more than 110 years old holding around 15 TMC (Thousand Million Cubic) of water at almost 1 Km above sea level.

Safety & Danger aspect.

Approximately 5 million people living around and much below the Mullaperiyar Dam “may be considered as the bravest group of human beings in the world for living there peacefully even while knowing that they will be washed away in less than 2 hours by the powerful water to the sea, if the weak dam fails at any time in the near future” – according to Wikipedia. Considering that water pressure from a broken Mullaperiyar Dam may also break Idukki, Cheruthoni, and Kulamavu Dams down stream, makes it an even more powerful water bomb.

Solution Looks like there are no easy solutions. Two sides are warring and the ferocity is increasing day by day. There is no doubt that human lives are more valuable than irrigation and drinking water. The fear about the Dam is genuine owing to its age and indication at the time of construction that decommissioning must happen in stipulated period. There must be goodwill and concern in both states. Leaders must sit down and decide on decommissioning at the earliest to allay mortal fears of the people of Kerala. At the same time Tamil Nadu must be reassured that once the new Dam is done, water is theirs.

Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy's slogan looks apt under the circumstances. "Safety for Kerala and Water for Tamil Nadu". People of both states should not look at each other in the eye with contempt and disrespect. However, urgency of the matter is paramount.

My knowledge on a Dam is basic. However I have been thinking, is there a way to continue to give the water to Tamil Nadu while decommissioning is in progress? Tamil Nadu in a video linked from this page, argues that if a new Dam is constructed down stream, they cant get enough water due to the difference in altitude for the proposed new Dam.


Brief History of Idukki & Mullaperiyar Dam The Main Fear about Mullaperiyar:  How and who built the Mullaperiyar Dam? 
Details of the Mullaperiyar dispute Concerns of Kerala on Mullaperiyar Tamil Nadu stand on Mullaperiyar:
Political Positions on Mullaperiyar Dam As water rises and Earthquakes shakes the Dam Tamil Nadu – Why are they so stubborn?
Dam 999 – The Film. Prime minister and the Hon'ble Supreme Court’s decision Water level raising anxiety level
A political analysis of the Mullaperiyar Dam issue Dam safety : A National issue Debating the Mullaperiyar Dam issue with a Tamilian
Let us apply precautionary principle on Mullaperiyar Indian first; Keralite and Tamilian second Dam is not in danger: A lone voice from Kerala.
Mullaperiyar Dam Issue :
Links & Videos:
Chidambaram says Supreme court decision will favour TN The 'New' Dam - phrase leaders loath to use.
Dams and Earthquakes The irony of Koodankulam and Mullaperiyar agitations Best articles on Mullaperiyar
What Happens Next News & updates on Mullaperiyar Dam issue. - Year 2011 Latest news & updates on Mullaperiyar Dam issue

A separate story : Sir, Why the Mullaperiyar was leased for an endless 999 years?

Brief History of Idukki & Mullaperiyar Dam
Situated at a height of almost 1km above sea level, Mullaperiyar Dam is a masonry gravity dam over River Periyar and its tributary Mullayar. Dam which is situated in picturesque Idukki district of Kerala has become a nightmare for the people of Kerala from four districts. With a height of approximately 54 meters, it was constructed by Britisher’s in the year 1895. 

Idukki district of Kerala has famous tourist locations such as Thekkadi, Periyar Tiger Reserve, and Munnar. It is also the powerhouse of Kerala with Idukki hydel project and dam. Idukki Dam is a 167 meters high arch dam. Idukki dam stands between Kuravanmala and Kurathimala. Idukki’s main dam is one of the highest arch dams in India. The lake created by the dam is an area of 60km2

Photo : View from Mullaperiyar Dam.

Photo : View of the Mullaperiyar Dam.
A silent spectator to the events on the ground and the raging dispute between two neighbours, this engineering marvel is abound with natural beauty surrounding it.

Photo: Idukki Arch Dam on the River Periyar;

Photo: Idukki Arch Dam on the River Periyar;
Idukki arch dam is the largest in Asia of that type. This dam holds far more water than Mullaperiyar. The fear is that in the event of a Mullaperiyar break, Idukki might follow.
Courtesy : Wikipedia.

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The Main Fear about Mullaperiyar:
Many years have passed since the dispute and the fear about the Mullaperiyar dam’s safety has come up. However, recently, many earthquakes have occurred in the area surrounding the Mullaperiyar dam. Well aware of the almost decaying conditions of the Dam, Keralites fear that dam will break. There are also study reports from Roorkee IIT which substantiate that belief by saying that on a point six Richter scale earthquake, the Dam will collapse. If anything untoward like that happens, water will flow toward the much larger Idukki Dam. Idukki Dam will however fail to withstand the pressure of the incoming water and burst. Assuming such a catastrophe happens, the flood of that mass of water shall take out 4 districts. 

In a latest development, Kerala Govt. has now appointed the Roorkee IIT team again to find out what will happen if the Dam burst. They have asked the IIT team to do a dam break analysis to find out how much water will rise in various areas and how many lives will be lost. 

Further Reading:
IIT - Roorkee signed up to conduct dam break analysis –  A Hindu Report
No mechanism to monitor impact of tremors on dam‎ - 

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How and who built the Mullaperiyar Dam?
The British engineer  Colonel John Pennycuick who designed the Mullaperiyar dam is much loved by the local population and people of Tamil Nadu who benefited from his great dedication and hard work. At such a time when the dam building technology has not progressed or become reliable, construction of such a large Dam as the Mullaperiyar, in itself is a marvel.

Photo of  Colonel John Pennycuick & panel on the Mullaperiyar dam that reads his name. 

Photo of Colonel John Pennycuick, the British engineer who designed the Mullaperiyar dam & the panel on the dam that reads his name.
Mute spectator to the events on the ground, the panel says that the Mullaperiyar Dam was designed by the engineer Colonel John Pennycuick. Colonel is a highly respected figure among the locals of Mullaperiyar and those who benefit in Tamil Nadu from his legendary construction.

“The dam that has weathered 116 summers is an architectural and engineering marvel, says a retired PWD engineer, who had worked at the dam site. But what is amazing is the admiration the common people of Madurai and surrounding areas still have for the dam’s legendary builder, Colonel John Pennycuick, whose portrait can be spotted on the walls of homes and small shops amid pictures of gods”  - according to a IBN Live article linked below.

The idea of harnessing water flowing in the western side of the Western Ghats and directing it to the eastern part of the mountain range itself was a innovative thinking at the time. Tamil Nadu (erstwhile Madras) with their much arid land and scarcity for water quenched much for water from the Kerala’s erstwhile Travancore region. This idea of getting the water to the eastern side was several times thought of and abandoned due to the difficulties involved at the time.

Also, a tunnel had to be drilled in the Western Ghats to take the water to the other side. The dam was christened Mullaperiyar as it is located at the headwater of the Periyar river after its confluence with the Mullai river.

“To ferry limestone — an estimated 80,000 tonnes of it went into the construction — several innovative methods were adopted. One, through a wire ropeway from Gudalur hills to Thekady and then by bullock carts into forest and another was through a ropeway linking the dam site itself. Apart from that, bunds were raised across another river called Mulliya Panjan that flows into Periyar and on the stagnant water stretch boats were plied.” - according to a IBN Live article linked below.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar dam: An engineering marvel – IBN Live

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Details of the Mullaperiyar dispute.
Now coming back to the story of Mullaperiyar Dam, it has been a concern for people of Kerala for several years due to the fact that its lifetime is long over as per the engineer who constructed it who gave it a life of maximum fifty years. This specified life is over more than 50 years before. However this Dam is still standing and storing up to 15 TMC of water (TMC = Thousand Million Cubic).

Periyar lake, a major tourist attraction is formed by the Mullaperiyar dam. On 29 October 1886, a lease for 999 years was made between Maharaja of Travancore, Vishakham Thirunal and Secretary of State for India for Periyar irrigation works. Under what circumstances this lease was given is unclear. It seems there was pressure from the British over many years for signing this lease agreement. After the Indian independence, this lease agreement expired and it was renewed in 1970 by chief minister C. Achutha Menon. Tamil Nadu pays Kerala a meager amount for occupying a vast land surrounding the Dam and for the water they consume for drinking and irrigation. The lease provided the British the rights over "all the waters" of the Mullaperiyar and its catchment basin, for an annual rent of Rs. 40,000.

Water from the dam is diverted eastwards to service farmers in Tamil Nadu while it is also used by a small level of electricity generation by Kerala since some years.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar: The Problem and the Solution! - The MAG
Mullaperiyar Dam - Wikipedia

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Concerns of Kerala on Mullaperiyar:
Kerala is concerned about the fact that the area around the dam has been witnessing repeated earthquakes over the last many years. Centre for Earth Sciences a Trivandrum (CESS), a state Govt. organisation has concluded that the structure would not withstand a major earthquake. The dam's structural safety was also questioned in 2009 by experts from IIT Roorkee suggesting that it may not be able to withstand a quake measuring more than 6.4.   

Concerns mainly revolve around factors such as the age of the Dam, construction materials used for the Dam. The other issue is that if the Mullaperiyar brakes and all the water flow into Idukki Dam which is much larger, whether that Dam can withstand the pressure from the gushing water.

The major confrontation between Tamil Nadu and Kerala over the issue started sometime in the year 1979 and still no constructive discussion has taken place between the parties to settle the issue amicably.

The Tamil Nadu Govt. refutes allegations that age has withered the dam. There are arguments that if the world's oldest Kallanai dam (built in the second century AD) in Srirangam in Tiruchirapali district is still functional and continues to irrigate about 4,000 sqkm, why can't the Mullaperiyar be as well?

Kerala says that water for Tamil Nadu and Safety for Kerala is their slogan on the issue.

Kerala has even offered to release water from the Neyyar reservoir to compensate for the water from Mullaperiyar in the event of an agreement to decommission it in order to construct a new one.

Latest news is that the Prime Minister has agreed to call both Chief Ministers for a discussion. But mired in the issue with the FDI in retail in parliament and outside, we have to yet to know when this will happen.

Further Reading:
FAQ: What is the Mullaperiyar dam issue? – By

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Tamil Nadu stand on Mullaperiyar:
Tamil Nadu states much larger dams on the river Narmada which is much older stands even now without an issue. They say Kerala is unnecessarily panicking. One channel host asked one journalist from Tamil Nadu recently whether they plan to keep the dam for 999 years as the lease period. As the engineer who built it gave it a life of 50 years it is a big question how a lease much more than that was in fact allowed to be formed in the first place.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu has arguments and counter arguments. Tamil Nadu claims nothing untoward is going to happen and that it is mere panic and Kerala is asking while they are offering the same amount of water from a new Dam, why Tamil Nadu is hesitating to allow the construction of a new Dam.

The specific issue surrounding the Mullaperiyar Dam can be described as the following.

It is the responsibility of the Tamil Nadu government to do the maintenance of the Dam made of limestone and mortar 116 years ago. When Kerala raised concerns about its strength, a concrete cap was put on the dam to increase its weight by 12,000 tonnes and cable anchoring was done to withstand tremors. Tamil Nadu says these measures have strengthened the Dam and made it as good as new. However Kerala contends these are cosmetic reinforcements and does not help in anyway in alleviating the perils that the Mullaperiyar Dam faces.

Two of the main point of the arguments between Tamil Nadu and Kerala are:

1. Kerala's refusal to acknowledge the genuine need of the farmers in the otherwise drought-prone regions of Tamil Nadu for the waters of the Mullaperiyar.

2. Tamil Nadu's refusal to see that it cannot rely on or continue to expect more and more from the resources of another State to satisfy its own requirements to the detriment of the other State.

A solution perhaps lies in acknowledging the two truths, but neither government can afford the political repercussions of such a confession.

Fact that Kerala is talking about putting thousands of human lives in jeopardy by continuing to operate the dam should in fact open the eyes of Tamil Nadu. Why it doesn’t is a big question. They vehemently oppose building a new Dam and decommissioning the existing one.

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Political Positions on Mullaperiyar Dam:
Kerala is ready to abide by the Supreme Court decision. However, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy says that because of the urgency of the matter we want a more immediate solution. He also says that while Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu is opposed to Koodankulam Nuclear project which cost the Federal Govt, 20,000 Crore rupees and built using the most modern technology and safety precautions, she doesn’t care for the Dam which is threatening the lives of millions of people of Kerala.

Central Govt is apparently in a fix. First the union water minister took position that we will await the court decision. However later he changed the stand saying that the Prime Minister will involve and talk to two chief ministers.

Picture : Protests in Delhi over Mullaperiyar continue

Picture : Protests in Delhi over Mullaperiyar continue: MPs from Kerala cutting across party lines protest at the Parliament House for the immediate intervention of the Prime Minister in the Mullaperiyar dam issue in New Delhi. Kerala state cabinet is considering a special meeting of the State Cabinet on a session of the State Assembly on the dam safety issue.

There have been strikes and protests in the affected districts of Kerala especially in Idukki district.

Kerala’s central ministers including AK Antony is taking a measured response approach though mostly aligned with Kerala’s concerns.

Tamil Nadu is also protesting at various political levels against a new dam and alleging that Kerala is creating panic. Tamil Nadu wants to wait for the Supreme court order and they are in no hurry or concerned about the anxiety and fear of the people of Kerala.

Latest is that the Kerala opposition headed by the strongman VS Achuthanandan has said that they will collect funds from the common man to construct a new dam if the authorities fail to respond to peoples' sentiments. 

Further Reading:
Emotional protests on the banks of Periyar - A Hindu Report.

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As water rises and Earthquakes shakes the Dam, Keralites hearts beat faster.

Tamil Nadu stands like a rock when Keralites are wondering whether and when the Dam will break. Dam failures are comparatively rare, but can cause immense damage and loss of life when they occur. Dams are considered "installations containing dangerous forces" under International Humanitarian Law due to the impact of any failure to the Dam can cause to the human lives.

Wikipedia has a page called Dam Failure which describes other Dam failures that happened in the world. Extreme inflow, Sub-standard construction materials / techniques, are two reason listed there. However they don’t list Earthquake as a reason. But we all know the damage frequent Earthquakes have been causing across the world and a Dam that is more than hundred years old is not immune to the havoc a major Earthquake can cause.

Earthquakes in the areas of the Dam have so far measured between 2.8 and 3.4 on the Richter scale. However as Earthquakes are something no one can predict, one is worried the havoc a larger one can play on the Dam.

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Tamil Nadu – Why are they so stubborn?
Tamil Nadu is using Mullaperiyar water for farming in a large region. Their concern mainly stem from the fact that any new Dam will stop that water flow. A new Dam building is expected to take at least two to three years. Also their concern could be from the fact that existing lease agreement could be cancelled and a new one put in place. The charges that Kerala levies on leased land, water, and electricity production could be revised. Also, their present control over the dam shall have to be forfeited.

However their main concern remains that water would stop flowing into their fields for irrigation and drinking purposes. But Keralites on the other hand is worried about their lives which is a much bigger concern deserving the first consideration.

Apart from providing drinking water to the people of Madurai, Theni, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram, the diverted waters of Mullaperiyar dam helped irrigate about 80,000 hectares of parched land in these districts.

They have been promised the same amount of water from a new Dam. It is merely because of the large possibility of a Dam failure that Kerala is panicking. If Tamil Nadu have compassion for Keralites, they must agree to build a new Dam. Hence it is clear that the people of Tamil Nadu are as concerned as Keralites because they stop getting drinking water and irrigation water once the Dam goes. But whose concern is bigger? Fearing for life or fearing for the non availability of water? Also, Kerala reiterates that the same amount or more water would be provided to Tamil Nadu once new Dam is built.

Chief Minister Jayalalitha has recently written to the prime minister much to the ire of Keralites saying that the Dam was fine and Kerala is unnecessarily panicking . Another political leader of Tamil Nadu, Vaiko, is also speaking provocatively over the issue saying that the political parties of Kerala are instigating violence.

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Dam 999 – The Film.
Tamil Nadu has banned this recent Hollywood movie. Dam 999 interestingly specifies the lease period of the Mullaperiyar Dam. It depicted the dangers of a Dam failure, namely, the Dam in Banqiao in China. Movie makers say that the movie is based on the 1975 disaster in Banqiao in China which killed 2.5 lakh people. Movie energized the rivalry between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the Mullaperiyar dam.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar Dam: A long history of mistrust and dispute – The NDTV
Banqiao Dam failure - Wikipedia
DAM999 Movie 3D Website - Official
Dam 999: A bizarre film that provides no insight into the dam controversy – The firstpost 

Tamil Nadu went to court for banning of the film and the file director went to Supreme Court over the ban seeking removal of the ban in the state. 

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Prime minister and the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s decision.
When delegations from Tamil Nadu and Kerala took up the issue with him yesterday, Dr Manmohan Singh indicated that a meeting of Chief Ministers of both the states could be convened to find a solution to the issue. Those who met Dr Singh included MPs from Tamil Nadu and Central and state ministers from Kerala. However this is yet to take place. Though one can hope for the best, hope is not reality and nothing much is expected to come out of this meeting. 

Matter is before the Hon’ble Supreme Court also. The Hon’ble Supreme court could take a long period of time to come to a decision and people of Kerala do not think they can wait for a court decision due to the fact the urgency of the matter. Court also has already requested both parties repeatedly to settle the matter through talks.

Last time Hon’ble Supreme Court considered the case before the court, they asked for both Kerala and Tamil Nadu to maintain the status quo.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court appointed a committee to look into the dispute on Feb 2010. Committee is headed by former Chief Justice of India Justice (Retd) A S Anand. The committee was appointed to look into the Dam safety and the dispute in-depth. But the committee in fact declined to permit Kerala to produce additional evidence on the issue of the Mullaperiyar Dam safety. Such a committee which makes one sided decisions shall not be considered as a neutral arbitrator for both states.

Hon'ble Supreme Court while hearing the petitions of both Tamil Nadu and Kerala on 13th Dec 2011 asked both parties to keep cool. They were considering the petition of Kerala to lower the water level to 120 feet which they did not allow. They also did not allow Tamil Nadu to raise it above 136 feet. Court scolded Tamil Nadu for quoting the court in the ads they gave in Kerala and also said that lives are more important than anything else.

The apex court is awaiting the report of the Justice Anand panel appointed by it to look into the safety aspects of the dam. But it is unlikely that the verdict will be accepted with grace by the losing state.

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Water level raising anxiety level:
One of the immediate requests from the Kerala Govt. to the Tamil Nadu Govt. in a Dam administered by Tamil Nadu, is that the water level be lowered to 120 feet from the current more than 136 feet. However Tamil Nadu wants water level in the Dam to be increased to 142 feet. Tamil Nadu is asking for the Dam's storage capacity to be increased by raising the dam height - from 136 feet (41.5 m) to 142 feet (43 m) to meet growing irrigation needs in the state.

Kerala is asking for reducing the water level as an immediate relief for the millions of frightened people in the area and four adjacent districts. However, their major request is to decommission the Dam as soon as possible and build a new one.

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A political analysis of the Mullaperiyar Dam issue:
In Kerala, the political parties are by and large united on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue. They only have minor differences so far. They understand that the people of Kerala are very angry and afraid especially since the 26 mild earthquakes within the last few years that hit the region near the Dam.

Most of the people of Kerala blame the impotent state and central politicians and parties for doing nothing for so long though it is mostly an issue between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Another fact is that it is not a water dispute any more as many people portray.

Mullaperiyar Dam dispute is purely a dispute about a Dam and its safety though Tamil Nadu is trying to make it look like a water dispute. Kerala has repeatedly stated that the same amount of water will flow into Tamil Nadu after a new Dam is erected. Politicians as well as the people of Kerala truly believe that Dam is weak and decaying although they have not so far achieved much in terms of moving towards any resolution. This is because Tamil Nadu is very firm in their repeated declarations that the Dam was strengthened and is doing fine.

On the Tamil Nadu side, I don't believe that any politician either from the DMK or AIADMK will be able to tell the people of the five districts of Tamil Nadu who receive the Mullaperiyar water that "let us allow a new Dam and let Keralites sleep well". The moment they say that, I assume, people will turn against them because the water from Mullaperiyar sustains them on a daily basis since they use it for irrigation and drinking.

Political parties of both DMK and AIADMK will be only able to take a position opposing any new Dam construction. On the other hand if AIADMK who rules Tamil Nadu makes a move on that direction (they will never do that) and supports a new Dam as requested by Kerala, people of the affected region of Tamil Nadu will receive unconditional support from DMK. They will go onto exercise their options such as withdrawing from the central Govt. of UPA for which they are providing a number of MPs.

Hence there is no way that there will be political unanimity in Tamil Nadu in support of a new Dam. On the other hand they are all likely to unite against a new dam as proposed by Kerala. Even if for argument sake, we assume that they come together and support a new dam, people will create such havoc and protest that their unanimity will not be sustainable.

In this situation only steps such as a protection Dam as proposed by Kerala or a way to continue to give the water while building a new Dam may be only ideas left. Tamil Nadu has already opposed to the new Dam down stream in a new site because they say that the tunnel that ferries water to Tamil Nadu at the moment won't be able to find enough water if Dam is built down stream as the elevations will change.

The federal government and the Supreme Court are in a catch-22 situation. The federal government is caught between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. If it leans towards Kerala, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) will pull out from the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) resulting in the fall of the government. The other way round, the Chandy government which is already sitting on the fence may lose power. There is also every likelihood that the regional parties such as Kerala Congress will pull the plug in Kerala if the centre favours Tamil Nadu.

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Dam safety : A National issue:
In India, there are many Dams built during British era. At least 500 Dams are said to be too old. Mullaperiyar Dam is one of those Dams. One of the issue with the Mullaperiyar Dam is its highly elevated location. A deluge will wipe out the down stream population because the water pressure will be too high.

A Dam safety bill distributed in the Indian parliament in 2010 is not yet discussed. Tamil Nadu is of-course opposing passing of the bill due to the Mullaperiyar issue. Kerala's water resources minister PJ Joseph has been campaigning for this bill to be passed.

Dam Safety bill is not proposing any penalty for those who caused the damage. This is one clause that is important too. In any case, if there is a federal agency such as the Dam Safety Authority of India responsible for the safety of the Dams, I believe people will be able to breath easy. They must have clear authority to decide whether or not a Dam can remain in operation and they should take the responsibility of any breach.

Many infrastructures that the British constructed during their occupation is still going well in India. But Dams being lethal water bombs, even if a dam is going to survive the next 10 or 20 years, from a safety perspective, it needs to be decommissioned after the stipulated life. In the case of Mullaperiyar dam, that life has far exceeded already.

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Debating the Mullaperiyar Dam issue with a Tamilian:
I have been asking my friends and acquaintances whether any solution strike their mind on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue. Some of them showed a blank face, some thought and yet some others said that it is politics and blamed all sorts of people. Few offered any meaningful solutions.

Today I struck a conversation with a Tamilian friend and this is how our arguments went.

First point of argument : I told him that people of Kerala have mortal fears and they are genuinely scared. He said that the Kallanai in Tamil Nadu is built during Chola period and is far more old. I told him that Kallanai is very small (5.4 m high) and Mullaperiyar is a much much bigger Dam. See the facts section.

Second point: He said that there is a by-election coming in Kerala and the whole issue is a political gimmick because congress party has a slim majority. I told him that fact is that congress party is in no position to take any political advantage because people are blaming entire array of politicians for doing nothing.

Third point: He says what guarantee is there if a new Dam is built, it will be safer? I told him it will use the best technologies and material. I told him it will use m30 concrete which is much stronger than Surkhi and Lime Stone used presently in Mullaperiyar Dam. He says that you have corrupt politicians and they will eat all the allocated money in commission for a new Dam. I told him we haven’t yet reached a stage where corruption eats into even a Dam.

Fourth point: Finally I pulled out the big one. Earthquakes! He immediately shook my shoulder and asked, "Did you feel it?" I said No. I didn't feel much. He said, that's it. These are small tremors and your dam will remain unaffected by it. I was dumbfounded and let him leave immediately.

The friend also did not forget to threaten me that if Tamil Nadu stops movement of vehicles between Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Keralites will starve within a day. I was surprised to hear that shocking revelation. I hope & believe Keralites will be still standing at least more than 24 hours after such a blockade. He meant to mean that many things including food items, vegetables enters Kerala from Tamil Nadu and we will be seriously affected.

If I and my Tamilian friend can not find any common ground, ( he hails from Chennai and does not use Mullaperiyar water either for drinking or irrigation) how can millions of people across Tamil Nadu and Kerala are likely to come to a consensus? If Tamil Nadu is not even ready to sit down with Kerala politicians for a face to face conversation, (efforts so far by the central Govt. has failed) how on the earth are we going to forestall a catastrophe of a Mullaperiyar dam breach?

If we cant drain the waters of Mullaperiyar with everyone's permission (namely Tamil Nadu, its people, Hon'ble Supreme court, central Govt.), and build a new one in its place, the only course ahead of us may be to build a new Protection Dam 300 meter down stream as suggested. So that at least if the Mullaperiyar dam is breached, water will find a place to rest. However this will be to the dismay of Tamil Nadu as in the future when Mullaperiyar dies its slow death or breaches, water will not flow into their state any more.

In the current scenario, if the Mullaperiyar breach and the deluge moves through the Periyar down stream, and struck Idukki dam, no one knows exactly what will happen. We cant anticipate that the massive amount of water from the Mullaperiyar dam will come and rest at Idukki like an obedient circus lion. That's just hope and hope is not a strategy as Hillary Clinton recently said.

It is better to take this step of building a Protection Dam sooner than later because if we let this issue drag on, more animosity between Tamilians and Keralites will follow. It is to no ones benefit to destroy the cordial relationship we have had for centuries.

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Let us apply precautionary principle on Mullaperiyar:
Precautionary principle is simple. It is based on the belief that prevention is better than cure. We have a Dam for which the following is true:


Situated almost 1 km above sea level. (Imagine the pressure of water when it comes down)


Aged - 116 years old (Advised by the creators to demolish after max. 50 yrs).


Possibility of flooding in the dam’s lake due to climate changes owing to global warming.


Earthquakes in the surrounding areas; moderate so far but no one knows when a big one will strike.


Built using old construction technologies - materials such as Surkhi and Lime.


Fact that in the event of a Dam break, much bigger Idukki Dam down stream could also brake.

Under the above conditions, question is, even if this Dam is capable of standing well for the next 20 years, why not raze it assuming that the likelihood of dam failure and the danger to the common public is very very high.

James Wilson Assistant Executive Engineer (Civil), Kerala State Electricity Board has a detailed posting here on the subject of precautionary principle. He argues that precautionary principle is the main basis of argument for a new Dam by Kerala on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue. He says that in the event that the scientific and technical evidence is not conclusive enough, precautionary principle must be applied in the case of Mullaperiyar Dam.

State of Kerala can not take chances with peoples life and that the Govt. is duty bound to protect it.

According to James, The origin of the Precautionary Principle can be traced back to Germany in the 1970s with the Vorsogeprinzip. Translated as the ‘Foresight’ Principle, this broad principle is a philosophical approach to risk prevention by taking protective measures against specific environmental/safety hazards in order to avoid or reduce environmental/safety risks. This approach was subsequently adopted in various International agreements.

When you apply precautionary principle in the case of Mullaperiyar Dam, the question again is, what one can do? Because of the fact that a resolution on the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala is very unlikely to be forthcoming, the only option that looks viable is to build one Protection Dam downstream with central Govt. permission and be ready for the disaster. Protection Dam will face the deluge and stop the water from Mullaperiyar right there and save us from imminent danger.

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Indian first; Keralite and Tamilian second:
Let us think like an Indian before thinking like a Keralite or Tamilian. One problem that India is plagued with is that we are too regional minded, cast minded, religion minded, linguistically minded, north, south minded etc. We are not Indian minded. You can come across many people who say other region is bad, religion is bad etc. There is no national integration or collective respect for the national cause.

When Mullaperiyar problem came up, it is leading straight to violence rather than measured approach, independent evaluation of the problem, dependency of the experts etc. Most importantly discussion is not happening distrust and suspicion looms.

Let us be proud about our region and religion and other attributes. There is nothing wrong with that. However let us also show respect and tolerance towards other regions, religions, and most of all let us be proud Indians.

Tamil Nadu's repeated refusal to attend meetings being called by the centre in an effort to establish contact with both states is particularly discouraging for those trying to move towards some sort of a negotiated settlement.

One problem in the case of Mullaperiyar issue is that we do not have a national institution of prominence such as a Dam Safety Authority which will evaluate Dams and take responsibility of the situation. Let those experts in such an agency decide whether or not Mullaperiyar Dam is safe. Hence the best thing we can do under the circumstances is to constitute such an authority through the enactment of the Dam safety bill pending in parliament. This can be done expeditiously so that further confrontation between the states can be avoided.. Also there were suggestions that this agency must be made above the states and the centre like election commission so that their advise wont be contested.

In the latest stories coming out, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam is suggesting that all the rivers and the Dams be handed over to the armed forces. Essentially what he says is that the independent authority of the armed forces can play a neutral and constructive role.

Someone said he belonged to Kerala, another said Tamil Nadu. When will we say we belong to 'India'?

Further Reading:
Kalam favours armed forces for maintaining rivers, dams‎  - The Hindu.
It's time to rebuild India with statesmanship - The Hindu Business Line

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Dam is not in danger: A lone voice from Kerala:
Dr. K.C. Thomas who is a top expert in India on Dams, say that Mullaperiyar Dam is not in a condition it made out to be by Kerala and that it can weather any storm.

Arguments by Mr M.K. Parameswaran Nair, head of Kerala Special Cell on Mullaperiyar Vs Dr K.C. Thomas, former chairman of the Central Water Commission in presented in the Deccan Chronicle article linked below.

Dr. K.C. Thmoas is one person who says that there is no danger to Mullaperiyar Dam. He is an authority on Dams and he is a Keralite. He is very respected and we can not question his integrity and honesty. According to the Gulf News article linked below, he is 90 years old and living in Thiruvananthapuram. He is one person who inspected the Mullaperiyar Dam in his capacity as CWC chairman and recommended strengthening measures before. He came into the scene in 1979, when for the first time the safety of the dam was hotly discussed in the state. The Dam strengthening measures were done in 1981. Reportedly he reexamined the Dam after strengthening and declared that the Dam structure as intact.

He also says in the reports linked below that no Dam was ever damaged due to earthquakes. After reading his assertions on the Dam, it is not wrong to doubt that whether what is going on in Kerala now is a mass hysteria. When everyone says the same thing it looks like that's what is right. An example is the ISRO spy case which was finally proved as unsubstantiated.

However there are many others - many other experts who says Dam is unsafe. What we have now is the ongoing investigation by Supreme courts empowered committee. We have to wait and see what comes out of that.

Again, considering the precautionary principle, and doubts in peoples mind seeing many ills Mullaperiyar Dam is visibly plagued with, the best course and probably the only course for Kerala is to rebuild Mullaperiyar Dam or at least build a Protection Dam down stream so that we are prepared for facing any disaster.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar: Why Tamil Nadu says no and Kerala yes - Deccan Chronicle
CWC ex-chief’s remark a shot in arm for TN - Indian Express
Indian states fight over an old, damaged affair - Gulf News - Dr. KC Thomas’s comments can be seen.

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Home minister Chidambaram says Hon’ble Supreme court decision will favour Tamil Nadu:
On Saturday 17th Dec 2011, news is coming out that home minister P. Chidambaram has reportedly said that the court will favour Tamil Nadu.

In a contemptible and irresponsible statement from the country's Home Minister who is supposed to remain neutral at all times, seems to have clearly favoured Tamil Nadu in his statement.

How can a minister of P. Chidambaram’s stature stoop to such a level that he will make prejudiced statements just to get the applauses of his local country men? How will India ever resolve its disputes if our national leaders act and speak with such irresponsibility?

With this statement, one begins to wonder what kind of national leader is Chidambaram? How is he in a position to say that the the Hon’ble court’s decision will be in his states favour? Is he preview to information leading to such a conclusion? Is he favouring Tamil Nadu in the case before the court in his capacity as Home Minister? How can he ignore the mortal fears of the people of Kerala? What made him make such a statement? Is this because he want to pamper his followers or is it something more heinous as an illegal influence that he is exerting in the case? What a pity? One thing is sure. This national leader is acting like a local politician without considering the interests of the country.

I wrote a piece in this article called Indian first; Keralite and Tamilian second. Does this mean not only ordinary Indians but also our national leaders are too chauvinistic? How can we ever come to find a solution if we have people like this? In comparison Keralite leaders of national stature have always also talked for Tamil Nadu delivering a measured, neutral comment.

Indian home minister P. Chidambaram in his statement went on to say that the Supreme court’s empowered committee will submit their report in February 2012. He said that either in February or in March a Tamil Nadu favoured verdict will be delivered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. He added that Kerala’s concerns will be over after the Piravam by-election is finished which he says instigated political parties to come out with Mullaperiyar issue at this point of time.

He said that Mullaperiyar Dam is built for Tamil Nadu. I don't know whether he means to say that Keralites should bury in its fury when it breaches even if it was built for Tamil Nadu as Tamil Nadu is not at the risk of lives as the Periyar flows entirely through Kerala and western Ghats protects Tamil Nadu from any affect of a Mullaperiyar Dam break. He was speaking at a meeting called in Chennai to discuss Koodamkulam and Mullaperiyar issues. The audience received his pronouncements with applause.

do not understand how a home minister of India sitting in his position responsible for the welfare of all states, speak with such partiality and belittling Keralites mortal fears by connecting it to a by-election?

Central shipping minister G. K. Vaasan who also took part in the same meeting reportedly spoke responsibly saying that central Govt. is trying to find a solution that will not harm any state.

Kerala Minister for water resources, P. J. Joseph has already called for P. Chidambaram’s ouster from the central ministry. He went onto say the minister Chidambaram tried to influence the Hon’ble Supreme Courts decision.

ith his statements, the home minister ensured that Keralites will seldom trust him in future in situations where neutrality is expected.

Addition on 18th Dec : He later retracted part of his statement concerning 'piravam by-election' according to media reports. What a gimmick by our great politicians?

Further Reading:
P Chidambaram pours fuel over raging Mullaperiyar issue - One India
Kerala’s Mullaperiyar concern a bypoll by-product: Chidambaram - Manorama Online
Kerala Leaders Slam PC's Statement on Mullaperiyar - Outlook India

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Mullaperiyar Dam Issue : Links & Videos:

Mullaperiyar dam - Facebook 

Rebuild Mullaperiyar Dam - Facebook 

Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) on Twitter 

Networked by Mullaperiyar – Times of India

Save Mullaperiyar Dam, Save Kerala Facebòòk Campaign - Facebook 

NHRC refer Mullaperiyar issue to full commission – DNA


Asianet News Network :: Mullapperiyar - AsiaNet has posted several videos in their site related to the Mullaperiyar Dam dispute. It is worth watching these videos to get the latest updates. (All videos are in Malayalam.)

What invigorated Mullaperiyar Dam issue in Dec 2011 is the press conference of minister PJ Joseph of Kerala. Video is given below. Otherwise this issue has been on and off for the last 30 years.

Water Resources Minister PJ Joseph's press meet on Mullaperiyar Dam issue – Asianet news video – Kerala water resources Minister PJ Joseph’s heartfelt statement that he cant’ sleep worrying about the Dam, Earthquakes and the lives of 30 lakh people from 5 districts is what invigorated this campaign in the last month of 2011. Combined with that when Tamil Nadu banned Dam 999 – the movie by Sohan Roy, the doubt was strengthened that Tamil Nadu was trying to hide something about the safety of Mullaperiyar Dam. Minister PJ Joseph belongs to the Kerala Congress party which is a constituent of the ruling coalition UDF. He openly criticized the central Govt. for doing nothing.

DAMS-The Lethal WATER BOMBS (Mullaperiyar Dam Issue) – Documentary on YouTube - This Sohan Roy directed Video is top class, an eye opener, and a must see.

'DAMs - the lethal water bombs' could be termed 'a visual support' for Kerala's longstanding demand for constructing a new dam at Mullaperiyar. An Award Winning Documentary on Mullaperiyar Dam Issue.

Mullaperiyar Dam Issue – Documentary on YouTube - A documentary by C-Dit (Centre For Development of Imaging Technology) on the issue of Mullaperiyar Dam. A "must see" for Keralites and Tamilians.

The Mullai Periyar Dam real story- Bit lengthy but worth watching - Documentary by Tamil Nadu is narrated in Tamil - Those who want to hear what other side has to say can see this video which is 42 minutes long. They delve into the history right from the British period. They say that Idukki was part of the old Tamil Nadu and explain about the rivers beginning is in Tamil Nadu in Sivagiri. They also explain the various strengthening measures done for the Dam. They say that strengthening measures makes the Dam very strong and blames Kerala Govt. for releasing false propaganda.

Video alleges that Kerala is planning to build a new Dam at Mullaperiyar to draw the water into Idukki Dam for increased electricity production there.

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The 'New' Dam - phrase leaders loath to use:
While Kerala based channel Asianet host asked a CPM leader why your polit bureau avoided the term ‘new Dam’ in their statements about Mullaperiyar issue, the leader who was attending the 'News Hour' program got agitated. In the same way, Congress leaders of national prominence avoid the usage of the phrase ‘New Dam’ at Mullaperiyar. Same is the comment from BJP also. If you tell their national leaders not aligned to Kerala or Tamil Nadu, the phrase 'New Dam', they will say 'no comments'. In fact they say everything except the word ‘New Dam at Mullaperiyar’ which Tamil Nadu vehemently opposes.

Keralites believe and fight for a new Dam at Mullaperiyar. However, Tamil Nadu is very much opposed to the idea of a new Dam. The moment someone talk about a new Dam at Mullaperiyar, Tamil Nadu goes on the offensive. Kerala Chief minister often says that Kerala’s slogan is ‘Safety for Kerala and water for Tamil Nadu’ As long as the phrase does not say ‘new Dam’ it is safe to use for leaders of national prominence. But they have to be extra cautious to say the term ‘new Dam’ because the word ‘new’ is sure to invite wrath of Tamil Nadu.

Across the border from Kerala, people do not want to hear the term ‘new Dam’. They can not conceive the idea of a new Dam at Mullaperiyar. Anything else they are ready to listen. They are also not ready to sit down and discuss the matter of Mullaperiyar as they have already twice rejected the idea of talks mediated by central Govt. I fear that this is also because they know Kerala will say the phrase 'New Dam' in the meetings.

I still haven’t understood exactly how Kerala Govt. is going to build the new Dam at Mullaperiyar. Whether it is by demolishing the existing one or building one down stream. How can they demolish and reconstruct without draining the 136 feet of massive water stored? That's the most contentious of all. Tamil Nadu want to continue to get water even when the construction is on. For it to be possible, the only way would be to construct one down stream without touching the existing Dam, wait for the present Mullaperiyar Dam's inevitable fate whenever that comes and then construct a new one in the same location if required. The actual formula of how it will work out right now no one would be able to tell because both politics and engineering side is not clear.

The legendary British engineer Colonel John Pennycuick is known to have sold his wife's jewellery in the attempt to build Mullaperiyar Dam after the first one washed away due to flood. His efforts did not go in vain because for more than 115 years, Tamil Nadu enjoyed the fruits of his hard work and devotion to the Mullaperiyar Dam building. Now the great engineering work that Mullaperiyar Dam is, should not end up in pieces through a Dam break and become the monster that it made out to become. That's the main hope I keep nursing.

Further Reading:
Visit Mullaperiyar for an on the spot study, V.S. urges national parties - The Hindu

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Dams and Earthquakes:
In the Firstpost article linked below, they sound warning that earthquakes can be recipe for disaster for Dams. Recently in Sikkim where a major earthquake happened, there are many Dams. The article says that the affect of the quake on these Dams must be studied. It is further discussed that India does not have a Dam safety authority and hence there is no system in place to ensure safety of Dams. Dam safety bill is most likely being rejected in the present scenario connected to the Mullaperiyar dam issue due to opposition from DMK (Tamil Nadu opposition) which have many members in the Indian central Govt.

Idukki district where Mullaperiyar Dam is located has encountered 26 tremors till today. In fact experts say the region should learn to live with the phenomenon as the area came under Zone 3 seismic category. This scenario of frequent tremors not only affects the Mullaperiyar dam. It also affects other dams in the area such as much more water holding Idukki dam.

Earthquakes are known to have caused cracks in Dams according to the Firstpost article writer. However, he says that in countries such as China the news is hard to come by although the damages to Dams are plenty.

Whether dams are earthquake proof is debatable. Dr. K. C. Thomas, an expert on Dams has recently said that no dams have ever been damaged due to earthquakes. He may be right. But how far one can trust such comments even if it is coming from an expert? We have seen what happened in Fukushima on the aftermath of an earthquake and Tsunami. Did any expert anticipate that nuclear plant would be damaged by a Tsunami? Similarly an old and ailing Dam such as our Mullaperiyar may be wiped out by a powerful earthquake that might strike the region (go forbid).

There are also doubts that large dams itself is becoming reasons for seismic activities in regions which were previously not seismic. Refer to the frontline article for further reading on dams affects on seismic activities. “The theory had its critics too. The late Dr. K. L. Rao, an engineer and a scholar, compared the Koyna reservoir sitting on the earth to a fly sitting on an elephant. He dismissed the theory saying that the fly's weight could not disturb the elephant. Ant i-dam lobbyists, however, are still not convinced.”

In fact there are some things where human knowledge can not reach. Science has some idea but not all scenarios are understood. Universe and workings of the human mind are some examples of such scenarios where there his complete ignorance for science. Affects of earthquakes on dams can be classified as such an unknown area especially on Dams constructed more than 100 years before using the technology of that time. Another issue with earthquakes is that they cant be predicted hence any precaution such as lowering the water level can not be undertaken. Hence applying the precautionary principle explained in this article, it is better to be safe than sorry. That's why we continue to assume Mullaperiyar dam is a threat to  human populace in the region.

Dams themselves have been a controversial subject across the world with many activists such as Medha Patkar of India turning against it. Narmada Bachao Andholan would not have been forgotten by many. Now in the Brazilian Amazon jungle a dam known as Belo Monte Dam has been planned and the construction was met with many objections. The celebrated director James Cameron is planning a movie based on the indigenous people being uprooted due to the upcoming Dam. Brazilians Govt. are said to plan 60 Dams across Amazon rain forest region. That will be an environmental catastrophe. The proposed Dam Belo Monte alone is expected to flood 400,000 hectors of the worlds largest rain forest and displace over 20,000 indigenous people. Construction was first prevented by a judge and now a go ahead has been given.

Further Reading:
A Message from James Cameron  - youtube video
Dam safety and earthquakes  - Water power magazine
Dams and earthquakes  - The Hindu
Dam safety in Sikkim – we were lucky this time - the Firstpost article on Sikkim earthquake
Association of State Dam Safety Officials  -
Dam Safety: Mullaperiyar and its implications - experts
Drowned Out - A documentary on the effects of Sardar Sarovar dam on river Narmada.

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The irony of Koodankulam and Mullaperiyar agitations:
Mullaperiyar Dam is old and ailing. Koodankulam Nuclear plant is newly built and certified by the top experts of the country.

But in Tamil Nadu, people are agitating against the brand new and certified safe Koodankulam nuclear plant and at the same time agitating against the decommissioning plans of the 116 year old Mullaperiyar Dam situated in a earthquake prone seismic zone 3 region. An earthquake of the scale 6 on Richter scale is capable of damaging the dam which put the lives of 35 lakh people down stream in peril.

You may recall tat even the request by Kerala to decrease the water level from the current 136 feet to 120 feet which will reduce the water pressure on the Dam is being rejected by Tamil Nadu.

During the construction phase, in Koodankulam which took a long ten years, there were no protests at Koodankulam after crores have been spent and the safety has been double checked by top experts and endorsed by the revered Dr. APJ Abdul kalam, former Indian president, now there are strikes making the plant operation difficult.

Article linked below (Sify article) is raising many doubts that there is a conspiracy behind the Koodankulam agitation in spite of Prime ministers assurance that 50% power will come to Tamil Nadu from the plant. Writer went onto claim that those backing the Koodankulam and Mullaperiyar protests in Tamil Nadu are the same group of people with vested interests.

The main question that arises is, article rightly ask, if a new plant is not safe, how does these people take the stand that a 116 year old Mullaperiyar dam is safe?

“Conversely, if the 116-year-old dam is safe and its height can even be increased despite the agitation in Kerala, why can’t a new plant at Koodankulam commence power production despite the agitation in the neighbourhood?” - quoted from the article.

Koodankulam plant can not be operated presently because the locals does not agree about its safety. Why Tamil Nadu is not allowing the same yardstick in Kerala and ask and wait for the agreement of the local people to increase the dam water levels to 136 feet or 142 feet that the Tamil Nadu is fighting for?

Kudos to the writer of the article  linked below, Mr. S R Gopal for pointing out Tamil Nadu’s double standards absolutely clearly.

Further Reading:
Koodankulam, Ground Zero  - Indian Express
Mullaperiyar & Koodankulam: Dam(n) the politics -
116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam safe, Kudankulam unsafe, for Tamil Nadu - Economic Times
Kudankulam, Mullaperiyar: What they say about TN, Kerala - The first post

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Best articles on Mullaperiyar:
The articles that bring about a unique perspective and previously unheard of data will be grouped here for those readers who want to go in-depth with the Mullaperiyar dispute.

Two States and a water issue - The Hindu
This one is by Ramaswamy R. Iyer published on Hindu on December 29, 2011. In one of the best analysis seen so far in the media on Mullaperiyar dispute, Iyer who is a distinguished writer, delves into the subject in-depth with well thought out ideas and suggestions.

Mullaperiyar dam: An engineering marvel – IBN Live
Those who want to know how and when Mullaperiyar dam happened, this article is a must read. Writer reveals some so far unheard of information. What hardships were suffered at a time when dam engineering was in its infancy is well explained in the story.

Mullaperiyar: Why Tamil Nadu says no and Kerala yes - Deccan Chronicle
In an article which says that Mullaperiyar condition and the risks associated are not as grave as they made out to be by Kerala, article contradicts the popular concept in Kerala that dam is in an imminent danger.

Kudankulam, Mullaperiyar: What they say about TN, Kerala - The first post
Here in an inspired writing in First Post, writer looks at the similarities and contradictions of Mullaperiyar and Koodankulam agitations. It reveals the double standards of Tamil Nadu in dealing with these twin issues. Both are in a way fight for safety; for safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of the population.

Mullaperiyar: chronicle of a stir - The Hindu
While discussing Mullaperiyar dispute, this 5 year old agitation must be understood and learned about which takes place at Chappath near Mullaperiyar in Idukki district of Kerala.

Resolving the Mullaperiyar conflict - The Hindu
Hindu again goes in-depth with some innovative ideas for the resolution of the dispute that has been affecting the lives of ordinary people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

New dam needed at Mullaperiyar urgently: Shashi Tharoor -
Shashi Taroor is one politician who is very educated and knowledgeable. It is always inspiring to listen to him. His ideas are neural and sensible. Read this interview by Rediff.

Dammed if they do - Indian Express
By far I have not seen any writing as sensible as Ramaswamy R. Iyer's. One is published in the top of this list. He is a former secretary, water resources, Government of India. Those who want to learn more about the subject, this is a must read.

The Dams videshi builders rest in peace here – IBNLive
One exploratory story brought out by IBN. For those who want to know how and when Mullaperiyar was created.

116-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is as good as new – The Hindu
The article appearing in the Hindu says, dam is not as threatening as it is made out to be and almost as good as new. Lot of historical facts about its construction is detailed by the writer A. Mohanakrishnan, who has been handling inter-state river water issues on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government, is advisor (water resources) to the government.

Mullaperiyar: Is there now light at the end of the tunnel? - The First Post - In an article that came out in the wake of Prof. CP Ro's suggestion lower the tunnel level which takes water to Tamil Nadu and his subsequent ouster as Chairman of the protest council, is a good analysis story and a must read.

A plan for resolving Mullaperiyar conflict - India Water Portal - Open letter to the Prime Minister - Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India. Conflict resolution ideas are coming from many sources who are sincerely interested in some sorts of a resolution. However, sad thing is Govt. of both sates have not yet come down from their extreme positions.

Living on edge all life - The Hindu - While millions of farmers of Tamil Nadu shiver at the prospect of decommissioning the Mullaperiyar dam, with three farmer suicides reported due to the ongoing dispute by Jan 2012, there are another group of people living in the immediate down stream of Mullaperiyar dam, those who can't sleep for years for the fear of a dam break. Article is their story - those people condemned to mortal fears with no solution in sight.

Greens in Kerala against new dam in Mullaperiyar - Times of India - While there is much clamor for new dam from Kerala, there are also a set of people, mainly environmentalists, who are against it. Dams are good. dams are bad too. On one hand when dams help population with precious water, on the other hand it destroys so much biodiversity and uproots indigenous and local people. Govt. of Brazil if planning hundreds of dams in the Amazon region. Thinks of its impact on a region known as the 'lungs of the world' and of thousands of indigenous people. Acclaimed director James Cameron is planning a movie on the Amazon dam plans. Also recall the epic struggle of Medha Patkar, Arundhathi Roy, and group in India known as Narmada Bachao Andolan.

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What Happens Next:


The Hon'ble Supreme court's empowered committee on Mullaperiyar dispute will meet again on January 24 and 25 to finalise its report. The report will be then submitted to the Supreme Court in February.


On Jan 04 - 2012, Hon’ble Supreme court appointed empowered committee on Mullaperiyar asked the Geological Survey of India to study the chances of earthquakes in Mullaperiyar and report to the committee within one month.

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Latest news & updates on Mullaperiyar Dam issue.
[- News articles for further reading are grouped and linked below each updated date.]

Mullaperiyar Disputes News & Article updates of later dates can be seen here.

Updated on Dec 31, 2011:

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy writes to the DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi:
As the year 2011 is coming to a close, Mullaperiyar issue dominated the last month of the past year. Minister for water resources PJ Joseph in Kerala, ignited the issue early in December through his emotional press conference in which he said “i am unable to sleep worrying about the lives of 35 lakh people” - worrying about Mullaperiyar. Almost at the same time came the release of the movie dam 999 which was eventually banned in Tamil Nadu. Till this day, sensibility has not prevailed among people or politicians. They either blamed the other state or blamed themselves for their misfortune.

At the fag end of the year 2011, we bring out the latest articles those are making headlines on Mullaperiyar issue. Chief among that is the letter written by the Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to the DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar issue: CM writes to DMK supremo - IBN Live
Kuttanad farmers worried over Mullaperiyar standoff - The Hindu
Expert: New dam will help Tamil Nadu, Kerala‎ - Deccan Chronicle
Greens in Kerala against new dam in Mullaperiyar‎ - Times of India
Over 10000 lorries off the road - IBN Live

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Updated on Dec 30, 2011:

Farmers suffering owing to Mullaperiyar dispute:
Deepika report says that farmers of Tamil Nadu are requesting the Tamil Nadu Govt. to arrange for their produce to be sent to Kerala for trade. Their situation is bordering on literally begging for mercy from everyone. Lorry owners and farmers together gave the petition to the Govt. about their grievances.

Because the movement of vehicular traffic is curtailed due to the long violent atmosphere between the states, the goods movement into Kerala is severely affected. This is causing the fruits, vegetables, and milk to get rotten and unusable. Unusable Milk is being flown into the ditches.

Report goes onto say that when politicians took advantage of the situation, livelihood of the ordinary farmers of Tamil Nadu were severely affected. Many farmers are on the verge of suicide. What happens in Tamil Nadu now is the sponsoured strikes by politicians. Farmers have started hating these politically motivated movements by opportunistic politicians.

The fact that prices have not increased in Kerala and also that the situation where goods arrive aplenty in Kerala have confused the farmers of Tamil Nadu who thought Kerala was dependent on them. People of Kerala are now thinking that nothing will happen even if the goods do not arrive from Tamil Nadu. As a reaction of this, yesterday Keralites have sent back some goods that arrived from Tamil Nadu at Kumily in Idukki.

Keralites are now thinking that a state which has given water to Tamil Nadu over 100 years without any hindrance, have not been dealt with reasonably by the people of Tamil Nadu when Mullaperiyar issue arisen. In fact they think that the treatment was rather cruel. Keralites now think they should attain self reliance.

Because the vegetable price has come down sharply in Tamil Nadu, there is meeting today by the Theni district collector involving all political parties to discuss the situation.

VT Balram writes that Mullaperiyar must become a diversion dam.
Kerala MLA writes in this facebook page linked below that the Mullaperiyar must become a diversion dam and Tamil Nadu must take more water and store it with them so that the level of water in Mullaperiyar can remain at a lower level.

He writes that we must get out of this ‘new dam’ paranoia.  It makes a lot of sense in face of serious objection to a new dam by Tamil Nadu. Previously, a similar but a different idea has come from Prof. CP Roy who spearheaded Mullaperiyar agitation in Kerala. CP Roy suggested that the level at which Tamil Nadu takes water from the dam be lowered so that storage can be reduced. - Facebook page of MLA VT Balram
Balram sceptical about new dam - Deccan Chronicle.

Updated on Dec 29, 2011:

‘Dam-break analysis’ begins at Mullaperiyar:
The dam break analysis ordered by Govt. of Kerala to be conducted by IIT Roorkeee has started at Mullaperiyar according to media reports.

“The study looks at the possibilities of a break of the dam structure and consequences, thereof, including disaster management and mitigation.” - reports say.

Prof. S. K. Misra of IIT Roorkee is overseeing the dam break analysis and related studies.

According to the report by Hindu, the objective of dam-break modeling or flood routing is to simulate the movement of a dam-break flood wave along a valley or indeed any area ‘downstream' that would flood as a result of dam failure.

Mullaperiyar dam has become a point of major tussle between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Kerala is fearing a dam break in the backdrop of recent mild to moderate tremors affecting a dam which is old and weak. Tamil Nadu which uses the dam water says dam is strong and Keralites are simply panicking. This dispute has reached dimensions of massive proportions with people of both states angry with each other.

Further Reading:
‘Dam-break analysis’ begins at Mullaperiyar - The Hindu
Survey on to identify safe zones - Times of India

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Updated on Dec 28, 2011:

Kerala decides to go to Apex court for complaining against empowered committee’s disregard:
Deepika is reporting that Kerala has decided to approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court to complain about the poor treatment Kerala officials have received from the committee’s technical team members who visited Mullaperiyar.

The above plan to go to the court was revealed by revenue minister Thiruvanchur Radhakrishnan of Kerala  today. He also said that the panel members were trying to submit a report favourable to Tamil Nadu with the participation of Kerala members.

Mullaperiyar: Kerala stops TN from carrying out repair works:
Media reports say that, Kerala police had to intervene to stop Tamil Nadu from carrying out patchworks on Mullaperiyar Dam’s baby dam as directed by the Supreme Court empowered panels C. D . Thatte.

Jewellers in Kovai shut shops over Kerala govt’s stance on Mullaperiyar:
In Kerala, except the marathon protests that's happening in Chappath near Mullaperiyar, most of the other protests have died down at least temporarily. However, in Tamil Nadu that does not seem to be the case.

In Coimbatore, Jewellers have shut shop as part of the protest on Mullaperiyar. Raja street where the Jewellery shops concentrate was almost deserted. They are saying that peaceful negotiations must begin instead of violence and spewing hatred. Their business has come down a lot due to customers from Kerala staying away from coming to Tamil Nadu. They rightly point out that both states must remain good neighbours and harmony must prevail.

Further Reading:
Jewellers in Kovai shut shops over Kerala govt’s stance on Mullaperiyar - Times of India
Confusion prevails over Mullaperiyar issue - IBN Live
Mullaperiyar: Kerala stops TN from carrying out repair works - Manorama Online

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Updated on Dec 27, 2011:

CP Roy removed:
CP Roy who was spearheading the agitation from Chappath near Mullaperiyar that is now five years old, has been removed from the Chairman’s position. He has been removed from the position due to a letter he has written to the PM and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu stating that the row could be resolved without a new Dam and by digging a new tunnel to funnel water to Tamil Nadu at a water level of 50 feet in the dam. Currently the tunnel that takes water to Tamil Nadu is at around 100 feet of water level.

Fr Joy Nirappel is the new Chairman. It may be noted that his letter has become controversial and that's the reason for the change of guard. Fr Joy announced that the letter CP Roy has written will not in any way affect the protest strike that has been ongoing for years. He added that the idea in the letter is CP Roy’s personal opinion and the strike has a goal of a new Dam at Mullaperiyar and nothing less than that.

Mullaperiyar row: DMDK chief Vijayakant arrested:
Leader of Opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly and DMDK leader A Vijayakant was arrested on Monday along with party legislators and cadres for staging a black flag demonstration against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Chennai.

Vijayakant was for protesting against Mullaperiyar Dam issue while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on a visit to Chennai. Many leaders are trying to take petty political advantage out of the situation. Another Tamil leader MDMK’s Vaiko’s speech that's on the Youtube is also very inflammatory. These leaders are not helping anyone’s cause except inciting violence and hatred between two states otherwise living in total harmony.  

NDMA puts on hold team for Mullaperiyar Dam contingency plan:
Tamil Nadu headed by Jayalalitha seems to be able to even make sure Kerala does not get even a disaster management team for the possibility to face Mullaperiyar dam break.

Reports are coming on the web that the National disaster Management Agency has put on hold the setting up of a team to formulate a contingency response plan for the Mullaperiyar Dam in case it bursts, the Tamil Nadu government said Tuesday.

Looks like Tamil Nadu has worn here also. Successfully stopping even a disaster management plane essential for saving lives in case something happens to the Mullaperiyar dam.

This has been effected till the time a Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee looking into the dam safety issues submits its report.

It may be recalled that Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha earlier written to the prime Minister of India expressing her anguish over the plan to form a disaster management team for Mullaperiyar. Jayalalitha has reportedly expressed her shock in a letter to the PM. I have never understood that what is there to be shocked about a preparation for a disaster management.

Committee appointed by Hon'ble Supreme court is expected to submit their report on the Mullaperiyar dam dispute to the court in February 2012.

Further Reading:
Dam: Agitation council chief removed - IBN Live
Mullaperiyar row: DMDK chief Vijayakant arrested - IBN Live
NDMA puts on hold team for Mullaperiyar Dam contingency plan - Economic times

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Updated on Dec 26, 2011:

Jayalalitha reports to visiting PM that Mullaperiyar dam is in good condition:
“The retrofitted Mullaperiyar Dam is safe and functioning well," she said urging him to ask Kerala not to obstruct but to co-operate with Tamil Nadu in carrying out the remaining strengthening works suggested by the Central Water Commission and also the routine maintenance works.

Lowering the tunnel level that takes water to Tamil Nadu:
A letter has been sent to the PM by the Mullaperiyar Action Council Chairman C. P. Roy saying that the water level in the dam could be lowered as requested by Kerala by digging a tunnel 50 feet lower to the current tunnel which takes water to Tamil Nadu. This is an innovative proposal though it is received with mixed opinion among people and politicians.

PM - 'May consider central security for Mullaperiyar':
Prime Minister Singh who is on a a visit to Chennai mooted the idea of central forces providing security to the Dam. This may be a good idea because centre is accountable for what happens there. However if a disaster strikes, the centre might just say “sorry”. In any case, it gives some relief to the people in the immediate down stream. How the proposal will be accepted by both states is yet to be seen.
Further Reading:

Jaya meets PM; seeks financial package for TN - Hindustan Times
'We want to protect people living in the dam area' - Rediff

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Updated on Dec 25, 2011:

Empowered committee's technical team visit boycotted by Kerala:
The visit by the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s empowered panel’s technical team yesterday at the Mullaperiyar dam site was a disappoint for Kerala with Kerala officials boycotting the visit. Kerala officials were complaining that they were not heard by the team who gave weight to what Tamil Nadu officials had to say. The visit by the team was a result of Kerala's request to study the effect of recent tremors on the Mullaperiyar dam. However, they did not seem to focus on that complaint.

Special Cell chairman M.K. Parameswaran Nair has said that the dam inspection by the technical team conducted on Saturday was very disappointing to Kerala.

Considering the stand of C.D. Thatte, one of the team members and home minister chidambaram’s recent remark that the court will favour Tamil Nadu, raises serious doubts on the support that Kerala shall receive from the empowered committee.

The main difference of opinion between Kerala officials and the panel members was on the issue of the sonic test conducted at the dam. While Kerala explained that the test was done only in one block, Tamil Nadu said that the sonic test was done in three blocks. During the visit and inspection, one of the team members has also reportedly told one Kerala official to shut-up. Overall, Kerala officials have reported it to be an embarrassing event for them to the waiting journalists.

Vaiko blamed Kerala minister for the escalation in dispute:
In a new development, minister Vayalar Ravi who hails from Kerala and who is a central minister, currently the Union Cabinet Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, talked to the leader Vaiko of MDMK, Tamil Nadu. Vaiko said that a minister from Kerala threatened to uproot the Mullaperiyar dam and that's what caused the consternation in Tamil Nadu. Minister Vayalar Ravi explained that no minister form Kerala has done so. However, Vaiko was not convinced. Finally minister Ravi agreed to bring the matter to Chief Minister Oommeen Chandy’s knowledge. Leader Vaiko has been instrumental in raking up the issue in Tamil Nadu. Leaders from both states must try to defuse tension between people and sit down for discussions with cool minds. However many seems to be doing the opposite.

PM Manmohan Singh visiting Tamil Nadu for two days starting Dec 25:
Prime minister Singh is coming to Tamil Nadu at a time when two issues are burning there. One on Mullaperiyar and the other regarding Koodankulam nuclear plant.

Koodankulam issue and Mullaperiyar issues are expected to dominate his visit. DMK leader Karunanidhi is meeting him to discuss Mullaperiyar issue. This is the first visit of PM to Tamil Nadu after AIADMK came to power in May 2011.

Rahman gets caught up in the Mullaperiyar controversy:
Mullaperiyar dispute is not even leaving the celebrated musician A. R. Rahman alone.

Poor Rahman, Oscar winning music composer who lauded Ousepachan, a Keralite music director for his work in the controversial film Dam 999 was blamed for his comments from some quarters. However, he made some good comments after the incident calling for unity between people and states.

He rightly said he supported the views of  respected former President APJ Abdul Kalam on this issue, who has favoured inter-linking of rivers to solve water problems.

He had also said that water cannot be a source of conflict and that the country cannot afford a war on water.

Three songs from now controversial director, Sohan Roy's Dam 999 whose film is banned in Tamil Nadu was shortlisted in the Original Song category for the 84th Academy awards.

‘Dakkanaga Dugu Dugu’, ‘Dam 999 Theme Song’ and ‘Mujhe Chhod Ke’ are among the 39 shortlisted songs for the prestigious Oscars and the final nominations will be announced on January 24, 2012. What Rahman said was that he wants Dam 999 to bring back the Oscars. "It's very exciting and I want someone to join my league," he was quoted saying.

Further Reading:
Rahman says his comments on `Dam 999` twisted out of context - Zee news
Jaya to take up various issues of Tamil Nadu with PM‎ - Hindustan Times
Red-carpet welcome for Ayyappa devotees across border‎ - The Hindu

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Updated on Dec 24, 2011:

Palakkad - Coimbatore buses to restart today:
Buses which have not been plying between Tamil Nadu and Kerala from Palakkad due to violence in connection with Mullaperiyar issue will be restarted today after the violence has come down. However police protection is being provided to the buses from Valayar check post onwards.

Empowered Panel's technical team are visiting Mullaperiyar Dam today:
Hon’ble Supreme Court of India appointed empowered panel members are visiting the Mullaperiyar Dam today, on Saturday as the media reports say.  They have already visited Lower Periyar, Idukki and Cheruthony dams on Friday.

C D Thatte and D K Mehta, technical members of the committee are staying over in Thekkady on Friday night and will proceed to Mullaperyar the controversial dam site on Saturday. Other Kerala appointed and Tamil Nadu appointed officials will join them in their visit.

Mullaperiyar - Tamil journalists try to go to the Dam site with empowered panel team:
Manorama is reporting that Kerala police stopped some Tamil journalists who tried to go to the Mullaperiyar Dam site along with empowered panel's technical members. Police acted on the basis of the complaints from Kerala based journalists. Tamil Nadu officials who control the Dam tried sneak Tamil journalists into the site - the report says. However Kerala police acted rapidly and forcibly disembarked the journalists from the boat. It was declared before that the journalists would not be permitted to the site along with the empowered panel's technical members.

Kerala officials stay away from the panel visit:
Protesting that the empowered panels technical team is not listening to the views of Kerala officials assigned to accompany them, Kerala officials have decided to boycott the visit of the empowered panels technical team on the Mullaperiyar dam site.

Further Reading:
Experts leave for Mullaperiyar dam inspection - The Hindu
SC panel members to visit Mullaperiyar today - Times of India
Trichy farmers fear price crash if dam row continues  - Times of India
Mullaperiyar: chronicle of a stir - The Hindu
fifth anniversary of the Mullaperiyar relay hunger strike at Chappathu is on Dec 24, 2011)

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Updated on Dec 23, 2011:

Trade Bandh in southern districts of Tamil Nadu:
On Thursday, farmers have rallied in Madurai and post office in Gandhipuram came under attack. Farmers were protesting against the new Dam idea at Mullaperiyar mooted by Govt. of Kerala.  25000 farmers said to have participated in the protest. They passed a resolution condemning Kerala Govt. actions over Mullaperiyar.

Trading activity in Madurai, Dindigul, Theni, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram came to a standstill as almost all trade and business establishments, with the exception of pharmacies, hospitals and milk booths, downed their shutters.

Leaders who addressed the rallies conducted as part of Bandh announced that the panic is being created unnecessarily in Kerala and the Dam is safe.

Court panel's technical team soon visiting dam site:
Hon'ble Supreme Court appointed empowered committee's technical team is visiting the Dams including Idukki and Mullaperiyar. They are visiting Idukki Dam to analyse whether it can hold the deluge if Mullaperiyar brakes. In Mullaperiyar they are trying to ascertain the strength and capacity of the Dam. Committee members declined to comment as the matter is subjudice.

Committee members C D Thattae and D K Mehta will arrive at the dam, along with the representatives of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Panel members are expected to go to Mullaperiyar today evening.

Further Reading:
Trade bandh total in southern districts - The Hindu
Maullaperiyar row: Farmers take out mass rally in Madurai, post office attacked - Times of India
Empowered panel to visit Idukki, Mullaperiyar - IBN live

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Updated on Dec 22, 2011:

20 minutes to run for your life if Mullaperiyar Dam brakes:
Times of India is quoting the senior scientist John Mathai of Centre for Earth Sciences (CESS) that those who are in the down stream of Mullaperiyar Dam will have 20 minutes to run for their lives as the incoming water column will be 30 feet high and fierce in its fury. He says that trees and all other things such as, houses, animals, etc on the route will be wiped away along with the water. It will also submerge a 50 sq km area of land downstream. This is in the event a 6 Richter scale earthquake strike the region where Mullaperiyar dam is located which the experts have said will destroy the dam.

Oommen Chandy says Jayalalitha shows double standard:
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy of Kerala says that Tamil Nadu Chief minister Jayalalitha is showing double standard on Mullaperiyar issue. He said that while Jayalalitha is arguing for shutting down of Koodamkulam atomic plant, she does not seem to care for the lives of 35 lakh people of Kerala. He also said that Tamil Nadu’s unexpected behaviour on the Mullaperiyar issue is creating problems for Kerala.

Technical members to inspect dam tomorrow:
Members of the Hon'ble Supreme court’s empowered committee - C.D. Thatte, former Secretary to the Ministry of Water Resources, and D.K. Mehta, retired Chief Engineer, Central Water Commission — will inspect the Mullaperiyar and Idukki dams from December 22 to 24.

The members visit is being highly anticipated by both states. However the differing stand of the states will definitely put the committee in a dilemma because a position supporting any state is expected to become a big issue in the other state.

Keralite workers stuck in hostel and quarters in Chennai:
Deepika is reporting that in Chennai, Keralites are unable to go to work due to threats from the Tamilians owing to the Mullaperiyar issue. Hence most workers are remaining in their living quarters. They get water and other amenities in these living quarters but they are living like in an enemy country in their own country. The owners of the businesses are not interested to send Keralites back to Kerala and that's why they are still living in Chennai. The workers have been made to live there without leaking out that information that Keralites are living in the particular place. Some companies have taken Tamil workers on a temporary basis also.

These people affected by the Mullaperiyar crisis is expecting that somehow the issue will be solved quickly. However this looks like a very complicated problem of inter state dispute over a Dam.

Those who are running small mom and pop shops have closed down their businesses and come back to Kerala. However those who have large businesses are unable to close it and leave. Though Tamil Nadu Govt. is requested for help, they are not providing any major assistance. Kerala Govt. is also not doing anything to alleviate the plight of those Keralites who are stuck in Tamil Nadu during this time when Mullaperiyar issue is ruling the roost. Just to survive the moment, companies have been hiring Tamil workers for the time being.

Survey for a new Dam at Mullaperiyar:
In another possible setback for Kerala regarding the Mullaperiyar issue, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has come out with the claim that the state hasn’t sought clearance for initiating a survey for a new dam.

This will be a new issue because Jayanthi Natarajan, the new Minister of Forests and Environment is from Tamil Nadu. It can be suspected that she is taking a decision favourable of Tamil Nadu. State Govt. of Kerala has however denied this statement saying that permission for the survey was already obtained and survey completed. Govt. of Kerala is now awaiting the clearance for starting the construction.

The empowered committee is considering the detailed design for the new Dam construction. At such a juncture this announcement by the central ministry might backfire on Kerala.

"Kerala’s stance that the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the new dam is under consideration of the Empowered Panel, the MoEF’s revelation weakens its claim to build a new dam." - Says Truthdive

Kerala’s Additional Chief Secretary for Inter-State Waters K Jayakumar claims that only the permission for the Dam construction is now required. Kerala is now on the lookout for an agency to carry out the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) for the purpose.

Further Reading:
Survey for new dam gets muddied -  IBN Live
Mullai Periyar: Kerala’s claim on new dam exposed by Jayanthi Natarajan - Truthdive
Technical members to inspect dam tomorrow - The Hindu
20 minutes to run for your life - Times of India.

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Updated on Dec 21, 2011:

MDMK’s road blockade against Kerala on Mullaperiyar issue:
Deepika is reporting that MDMK’s road blockade asking for Mullaperiyar water level to be increased to 142 feet and asking for the violence against Tamils in Kerala to be stopped has started in Tamil Nadu. They are blocking all roads leading to Kerala from Tamil Nadu. Kanyakumari, Coimbatore, Tirunelveli, Trichi are the districts where in 13 places the road blockade has begun.

Police have blocked the borders of Idukki district due to the blockade. Police reinforcements have been strengthened due the chances of violence.

MDMK chief Vaiko asked his cadres to lead a peaceful protest. Strike will go on from 8 AM to 8 PM today.

During the day as protests progressed, the MDMK leader Vaiko was arrested by Tamil Nadu police. Nedumaran, the Tamil group leader also was arrested along with Vaiko. They were arrested for braking the 144 rule.

As part of the agitation to impose economic blockade on Kerala due to Mullaperiyar dispute, blocking all routes, there has been widespread violence in Tamil Nadu.

Leaders such as Vaiko of Tamil Nadu is pouring oil on fire instead of trying to douse the fire that has been caused by the Mullaperiyar dispute.

We need cool minds and constructive discussion between these two neighbouring states to put an end to the dispute. The hardships that are being faced by the farmers in both states due to the violence caused by the dispute is enormous because they cant sell their produce. Kerala is suffering because they cant get daily use food items such as vegetables, milk, fish etc. Also, we are moving into a stage where Malayalis and Tamilians are hesitating to look into each other on the eye. How can the neighbours be in such a state of affairs and for how long?

Protests against Kerala aggravates in Munnar in Idukki district of Kerala:
There are reports that in Munnar which is part of Kerala, that the protests against Kerala is getting stronger. Tamils and Malayalis are grouping against each other in this region according to reports. Malayalis are also leaving some areas such as tea estates fearing violence. Reports say more Tamil people are reaching from Tamil Nadu in Munnar in an effort to group Tamils against Malayalis.

Tamil groups are explaining to Tamilians living in Idukki district that Tamil Nadu Govt. provides many different kind of benefits to its people and if the Idukki district is joined with Tamil Nadu, the benefits will come to Tamilians now living in Kerala. So there is also a strong campaign in Munnar in an effort to join Idukki with Tamil Nadu.

Some other repots say that the movement of vegetables between Tamil Nadu and Kerala has come down a lot.

Sonia Gandhi requests to maintain calm on Mullaperiyar:
Sonia Gandhi requested both Kerala and Tamil Nadu to maintain peace and harmony on the issue of Mullaperiyar. She made this request to the Kerala MPs who have gone to meet her to discuss the issue.

ES Bijimol MLA writes to the Chief minister on Mullaperiyar:
MLA warned the chief minister that the protests about Mullaperiyar in Idukki may not remain in the Gandhian style if no solution is forthcoming happens. The protests in Chappath near the Mullaperiyar dam will reach its fifth year on Dec 25 and on that day she asked Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to be present there.

Further Reading:
Chandy demands new dam in place of Mullaperiyar - Manorama online
Mullaperiyar: Jayalalithaa slams move to set up NDMA team‎ The Hindu
SC's empowered committee to inspect Mullaperiyar Dam on Dec. 24 - All India Radio news

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Updated on Dec 20, 2011:

Chief minister asks officers to ensure no violence:
While violence is reported to be taking place in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu owing to Mullaperiyar issue, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy of Kerala asked his senior police officers to ensure that no violent incidents against Tamilians happens in the state. He further said that if at all there are such incidents, strict action must ensue.

This is a good step because violence begets more violence. Destroying the cordial relationship that Tamil Nadu and Kerala has, will serve no purpose whatsoever.

Transportation between Tamil Nadu and Kerala disrupted:
Due to ongoing violent incidents between the two states owing to Mullaperiyar issue, bus transportation and movement of other vehicular traffic remains affected in various border crossings according to a deepika report today.

Meanwhile, former water resources minister of Kerala, MK Premachandran in a lecture, stated that P. Chidambaram's statement that Supreme court decision will favour Tamil Nadu shows that he has lot of say in trying to create a favourable argument for Tamil Nadu in the court.

Deepika is writing that ‘Mullaperiyar : the ways close’ - they mean to say that the movement of traffic between both states is getting seriously affected. They write that the TNSTC (Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation) buses are afraid to ply into Kerala and vice versa Kerala state busses are hesitating to go into Tamil Nadu.

Reports are saying that, at Palakkad which is one major exit point to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu from Kerala, KSRTC buses didn’t ply yesterday. Stone throwing and other kind of attacks on passengers and showering abuses are the main issues being faced by the passengers.

There are also reports that the Tamil news papers which published Kerala Govt. advertisement yesterday on Mullaperiyar  issue were burned today in Theni region.

Further Reading:
Water level at Mullaperiyar dam needs to be reduced - Time of India
ISRA Organised Seminar On Mullaperiyar Dam Issue‎ Yentha
Self-immolation bid over Mullaperiyar dam issue‎ - The hindu
Resolving the Mullaperiyar conflict - The Hindu article with some innovative solutions.

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Updated on Dec 19, 2011:

Vaiko for economic blockade on Kerala:
Vaiko has been the most vocal and sometimes dangerous politician with comments against Kerala on Mullaperiyar issue. He has always made very provocative statements and brought ideas that are most radical to the table on Mullaperiyar issue. He expressed happiness over home minister Chidambaram's comments that Tamil Nadu shall definitely win the case pending before the Hon'ble Supreme Court.  

No one in Kerala made any suggestions against Tamil Nadu which is as radical as what Vaiko has been saying such as 'economic blockade'.

He has so far made so many allegations against Kerala. The MDMK chief, who announced a one-day symbolic blockade on Dec 21 of 13 roads leading to Kerala from Tamil Nadu, said, "Our point is clear. Kerala must drop the idea of decommissioning and demolishing the Mullaperiyar dam, which is very strong. The (Kerala) government should also drop the idea of constructing a dam in Idukki, in the pretext of generating power," Vaiko said.  He also want to stop giving power to Kerala from Neyveli. However regarding neyveli, he said that was not in the plan for the moment but that strategy could be reviewed.

Ad war between Tamil Nadu and Kerala:
An advertisement connected to Mullaperiyar Dam issue given out by Kerala Govt. is appearing in Newspapers in Tamil Nadu today.

In the advertisement meant for the people of Tamil Nadu, Kerala Govt. is proclaiming that Tamil Nadu would be given water after ensuring the safety of the people of Kerala. Advertisement carries the photo of Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy and is half page.

Adv. also goes onto assure Tamilians that all safety would be provided to them while they are in Kerala and trusted that the same would be done by Jayalalitha Govt. for Keralites who are in Tamil Nadu.

Adv. went onto say that people from both states should keep calm on the Mullaperiyar issue and that the new Dam is the only solution to the issue.

It may be noted that Jayalalitha conducted a similar exercise in Newspapers in Kerala sometime back.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar dam issue: Ad war between Tamil Nadu and Kerala - Times of India
Mullaperiyar: 2-week pause in cardamom trade results in Rs 100 cr loss - The Hindu
Mullaperiyar issue: TNSTC cancels buses to Kerala‎ Zee News
Economic blockade only solution to reign in Kerala: Vaiko‎ - Deccan Herald
MDMK to seal six entry points to Kerala in Kovai‎ -
Farmers demand protection for Mullaperiyar dam - The Hindu

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Updated on Dec 18, 2011:

Mullaperiyar Dispute : Home Minister retracts part of his statement:
Please refer to the part of the article where we reported about Home Minister Chidambaram's controversial remarks against Kerala.

Home minister P. Chidambaram retracted part of his statement against Kerala yesterday saying that the 'Piravam by-election' part of his statements could have been avoided.

In Kerala, all leaders right from Chief Minister to opposition leader VS Achuthanadan and many other leaders from both sides expressed their strong protests against minister P. Chidambaram.

His words when he retracted his statements were clear circus using words ad they were not sincere. "That reference was not necessary and it was not my intention to hurt the feelings of anyone. I continue to believe that the issue must be resolved in a spirit of cooperation and brotherhood between the people of the two states." His words look good, how sincere he is the question.

Further Reading:
Chidambaram withdraws comment on Mullaperiyar dam - Times of India

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Updated on Dec 17, 2011:

Mullaperiyar Dispute: A lull in the political and protest activities:
In the Hon’ble Supreme Court while Tamil Nadu insisted that we do not want to talk as the empowered committee of the Court is investigating, Kerala complained that Tamil Nadu is not talking. Kerala’s counsel Harish Salve presented Kerala’s arguments before the court.

Meanwhile Kerala’s LDF is threatening to resurrect the protests after a meeting they conducted yesterday.

Mullaperiyar Dispute : Violence previously unseen:
Though the Mullaperiyar Dam dispute is an old dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala dating back to 1970’s, it has never attained a colour of so much anger and hatred between the two states. Though there are reports of attacks in Kerala, nothing is substantiated. However, more news about attacks and violence is coming out from Tamil Nadu each passing day. Today there are reports of attacks in Chennai by lawyers and another report where one Malayalam film crew shooting in Thenkashi being asked to pack up in one hour. Two hotels, a bakery and a juice shop in Little Mount are of Chennai were attacked - police said on Friday. Director of the film said that local people didn’t threaten them. He said that it is a group of people who arrived from out side who caused the commotion.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar row: Lawyers ransack Keralites' shops in Chennai - Deccan Chronicle
Negotiating Mullaperiyar dispute  - Daily Pioneer

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Updated on Dec 16, 2011:

CISF Deployment request in Mullaperiyar by Tamil Nadu rejected by Supreme Court:
Hon'ble Supreme Court on Thursday yesterday rejected the proposal by Tamil Nadu for deployment of the CISF at Mullaperiyar Dam premises. Tamil Nadu has not been convinced with the Kerala state Police security at Mullaperiyar. Court also scolded Tamil Nadu for not attending the meetings being called by the central Govt. The court observed that solving the issue through direct talks supervised by the PM is the best way to settle this case. The Court asked Tamil Nadu to attend the meetings.

Tamil Nadu argued in court that the issue is before the empowered committee of the Supreme Court and that's why we are not agreeing for talks. However Supreme court rejected this argument and said that the fact that the case is before the empowered committee does not stop Tamil Nadu from attending the talks with Kerala.

Meanwhile the local people from Mullaperiyar requested for urgent decommissioning of the Dam due to the citing prevailing 'dangerous' conditions. This plea was submitted by 19 local people. However, the court has rejected this request. Court asked this team of locals to go to the empowered committee as the issue is in their consideration.

Meanwhile Kerala yesterday appealed to the empowered committee of the Supreme Court to lower the water level to 120 feet.

Central water ministry also informed Kerala that as Tamil Nadu has not agreed for talks, the central Govt. initiated talks between Tamil Nadu and Kerala has been indefinitely postponed.

Further Reading:
Booklet in honour of man behind Mullaperiyar released - Times of India
Mullaperiyar dam is safe, Tamil Nadu tells Empowered Committee - The Hindu
Peaceful march by 30,000 demanding protection of Mullaperiyar - The Hindustan Times
Tourism sector in Munnar, Thekkady badly hit due to Mullaperiyar dam issue - Travelbizmonitor

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Updated on Dec 15, 2011:

All Protests stopped in Kerala by all parties on request from the PM:
After yesterday’s all party meeting with the PM and on the basis of his recommendations, agitations have been stopped in Kerala. However KM Mani of Kerala Congress reminded that he is stopping the agitations only for a month and it would be restarted after that if there are no credible developments.

On the PM’s request that an atmosphere for talks must be created, all the political parties have at least temporarily halted the agitations.

On another development, Tamil Nadu assembly has passed unanimous resolution asking for Dam water levels to be raised to 142 feet. They have also asked for CISF deployment is the site, warned Kerala Govt. against disrupting the maintenance work. They wanted false propaganda by Kerala to be stopped.

This makes it clear that there is rare unanimity in both states with respect to the issue of Mullaperiyar. Kerala assembly also passed a resolution stating out their demands such as lowering the water levels to 120 feet.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar row: Kerala ready for tripartite agreement - Firstpost
Mullaperiyar dam: Kerala wants joint meeting with PM, Tamil Nadu disagrees - NDTV
Mullaperiyar issue hits tourism season in Kerala‎ - IBNLive
TN raiders give sleepless nights to villagers - IBNLive
Jayalalithaa questions Manmohan Singh's 'silence' on Mullaperiyar dam row - Times of India
Mullaperiyar: protesters turn violent in Erode - The Hindu

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Updated on Dec 14, 2011:

All party team from Kerala meets PM on Mullaperiyar issue:
After Hon’ble Supreme court came down heavily on Tamil Nadu yesterday for advertisements that carried statements from the Hon'ble court, there has been some relative calm on the Mullaperiyar issue. Next development has been the meeting of the all party team from Kerala with the PM which is over today.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apparently requested the leaders from Kerala which included opposition leader VS Achuthanandan, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, and others that a conducive atmosphere must be created for the talks between Tamil Nadu and Kerala to take place. Following which, the KPCC leader Ramesh Chennithala announced that Congress is stopping all agitations on the issue on an immediate basis in Kerala.

The Kerala state government was expecting that the height of the water level at the Mullaperiyar Dam to be lowered from the current 136 feet to 120 feet by the court yesterday. But the Supreme court did not permit that.

With the court verdict yesterday, people in the area immediate downstream of the Dam are even more scared because they have been expecting that the court will come to their rescue.

"I always believe that humanism should prevail over legalism. Whenever a court is hearing a case which concerns the right to life, then let humanism prevail," Justice VR Krishna Iyer said about the Supreme Court verdict.

Some reports in the media says that those who are leading the agitation for a new Dam have lost faith in the system and leaders are finding it hard to convince them.

"The advocate general's submission before the high court has already been a blow to the people here. Now, the setback faced by Kerala in the hon’ble Supreme Court has only aggravated their disappointment. Now, we can't predict how they will react,'' MLA Bijimol who is leading protestors in Idukki, said.

Meanwhile as directed by Supreme Court yesterday, Kerala will file an appeal before the empowered committee on Mullaperiyar requesting to lower the water level to 120 feet at Mullaperiyar Dam.

A dispute between two states makes it politically complicated:
Mullaperiyar dispute is very complicated due to the fact that it is a dispute between two states. When the national parties such as congress and CPM takes two different stands in two different states, matter gets very complicated. Congress in Kerala supports a new Dam and congress in Tamil Nadu is against it. CPM in Kerala is supporting anew Dam and CPM in Tamil Nadu will obviously stand against it. The National leaders of these parties have to be tread a very line here. If national leader is a Keralite he has to look like supporting Kerala Otherwise Keralites will eat him alive and same if the leader is Tamilian.

Only few leaders such a Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, AK Antony - a Kerala leader of national stature are sounding neutral or showing the guts to remain neutral.

It is imperative that national leaders take a neutral stand on the Mullaperiyar issue and make both states sit together to discuss the solutions. There is no silver bullet out there. Parties must sit together and iron out their differences and come to a logical decision.

What happened to the site
Till two days back i browsed this page which was being posted every ten minutes by a large number of people. However for the last two days, it seems to have gone offline with no trace in the search engines also. What happened to this popular page is a mystery. I have been wondering if some opposed to Kerala’s view of the Mullaperiyar Dam issue hacked into this page. But the site being hosted by Facebook, it won’t be an easy undertaking to hack it. If anyone knows, please update me.

It seems that late on 14th Dec evening i am able to browse the above page.

Congress Law makers from TN protest outside the parliament:
They have protested against the recent legislation in Kerala assembly to decrease the Dam water levels to 120 feet. They protested saying that this is against Supreme Court’s yesterdays verdict against reducing the water levels to 120 feet.

Further Reading:
Congress MPs from Tamil Nadu protest over Kerala legislation on Mullaperiyar dam - Times of India
Chandy meets PM on Mullaperiyar issue - Economic Times
Indian states fight over an old, damaged affair - A nice analysis of the Mullaperiyar issue by the Gulf News

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Updated on Dec 13, 2011:

"Douse the fire. Do not add fuel to the fire". Supreme court to Kerala and Tamil Nadu:
In the cases that came up today before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, they have advised both Kerala and Tamil Nadu to keep calm. Neither the court allowed the water to be lowered to 120 feet as requested by Kerala nor they allowed it to be raised to 142 feet as requested by Tamil Nadu. Court directed Tamil Nadu to maintain the 136 feet level.

Supreme Court to hear Mullaperiyar issue today:
The battle for Mullaperiyar Dam is back at Hon’ble Supreme Court today. A five judge constitution Bench headed by Justice DK Jain will hear three applications from the two states today.

Supreme Court already constituted an empowered committee and their investigations on the matter are ongoing. Two members of this committee is visiting the Mullaperiyar Dam site this month end.

The following issues are coming up before the court today.

1. Tamil Nadu’s request for CISF to be deployed in the Dam premises.
2. Another request from Tamil Nadu accuse Kerala of spreading panic and they want Court to stop it.
3. Kerala wants water level to be lowered to 120 feet from the current 136 feet levels.

I hope, everyone knows the background of the Mullaperiyar issue as explained in this article. Hon’ble Supreme Court has already advised the parties, Tamil Nadu and Kerala to try for an out of court settlement of the Mullaperiyar Dam dispute. However it looks like the chances of that is very remote while seeing the sentiments being roused in both states due to this issue. The sentiments have been raised so much that is has reached a fever pitch stage. How much more this issue will drag on is a wait and watch. Both sides does not seem to be relenting even a bit. DMK leader Karunanidhi of Tamil Nadu in his statement asked the centre to resolve the impasse before blood spills the streets. It is not clear what he meant by it.

People of Kerala are worried for their lives and people of Tamil Nadu are worried about what to do when the water stops flowing for drinking as well as irrigation. Tamil Nadu is a state with few rivers which it can depend on for large quantity of water. Karunanidhi yesterday stated that Kerala is trying to make Tamil Nadu a desert state.

Kaveri water dispute which is in some ways similar to the ongoing Mullaperiyar Dam dispute, has dragged on for many years. A tribunal appointed took many years to come to a decision. However all states involved in the dispute such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka is planning to file review petitions on Tribunals verdict. This shows how contentious such issues become and that it can take decades to settle a dispute with all sides sticking to their Guns.

Join Idukki to Tamil Nadu : Tamil Nadu Congress MPs:
In the latest twist to the Mullaperiyar Dam dispute, Tamil Nadu congress MPs have gone overboard and made the most ridiculous suggestion. That’s to join Idukki with Tamil Nadu. In some documents I red on the Internet and in a video produced by Tamil Nadu, I have already seen the claim that Idukki was actually part of Tamil Nadu before and the claim that more people there, are Tamil speaking. They have even gone onto suggest that a referendum must be conducted to find out what people want.

KM Mani - The one who takes a tougher stand for Kerala:
KM Mani and PJ Joseph of Kerala congress have been sounding exceptionally tougher on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue out of all the other leaders of Kerala. In his latest pronouncement, he unequivocally put across a statement which says Kerala needs no one’s permission to build a new Dam down stream. He said that no one in Kerala will attack Tamilians in Kerala and if at all there are incidents they are isolated and the work of antisocial elements.

Indian Navy ready for the rescue:
I don't understand what rescue they can effect if a Dam full of water comes crashing and crashes another Dam on the way and the resulting deluge flows towards inhabited areas. We have seen what level of rescue was possible in the event of Tsunami in countries such as Japan. It will be a Himalayan task to save and rescue people if the Dam decides to breach.

DMK fasts over Mullaperiyar Dam:
In Kerala and Tamil Nadu political activity is getting stronger with both sides not ready to allow any gaps in their declared goals. It is expected that the political parties and formations will toughen their stand further in the coming days.

Keralites students suffering:
In another report in Deepika, Keralite students are reportedly going through tough times in educational institutions in Tamil Nadu. They are being denied water or enough water with the claim that Kerala is denying water to Tamil Nadu. There is no point in making the innocents suffer like this. Whether in Tamil Nadu or Kerala, what use is there if people are made to suffer? I keep thinking that a protection Dam downstream is the only good idea which will satisfy both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Kerala because it gives protection from a possible Mullaperiyar Dam break. Tamil Nadu because their water does not stop till the time that Mullaperiyar Dam is breached or the Dam dies its natural death whenever that is.

Further Reading:
Supreme Court to hear Mullaperiyar issue today - NDTV
Mullaperiyar Dam: Police lathicharged protestors - IBNLive
Mullaperiyar Dam: Navy ready for rescue efforts - indian Express
Mullaperiyar: Mani sets 10-day deadline - IBNLive
DMK does an Anna, fasts for Mullaperiyar dam - NDTV
Mullaperiyar issue: Manmohan expresses concern over violent incidents‎ - The Hindu
Mullaperiyar dam row: Tamil Nadu, Kerala adding fuel to the fire, says Supreme Court - Times of India
New dam needed at Mullaperiyar urgently: Shashi Tharoor -

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Updated on Dec 12, 2011:

Tamil Nadu minister Pannerselvam's attacked by Tamil Nadu protesters in Kumili.
(Based on Deepika & Hindu report)

Thousands of people who arrived from Tamil Nadu at Kumily check post to protest on Mullaperiyar Dam dispute, were involved in violent incidents near Tamil Nadu Kerala border.

Tamil Nadu finance minister Paneer Selvam who came to address the rally was attacked by the mob. Condemning that Govt. failed to protect their interests, an angry mob pelted the car with stones, broomsticks and footwear.

Later police resorted to Lathicharge to disperse the mob. A van was set on fire too in the area. Hindu report says there were 40,000 people present. The demands of the protesters included a Tamil Nadu Govt resolution in the assembly to raise the water level to 142 feet. On 15th December an assembly session is already called for the matter of Mullaperiyar dispute in Tamil Nadu. Protested were said to be present in the site till the evening.

“ people from several villages in Cumbum valley and also from Kamayagoundenpatti, Surulipatti, Goodalur, Cumbum, Chinnamnur, Theni, Andipatti and nearby areas took out a rally towards the Kumily check post, despite the barricades. Women carrying broomsticks too joined the stir and raised slogans against Kerala. “ - report said.

Further Reading:
Panneerselvam’s car attacked - The Hindu
Supreme Court to hear Mullaperiyar issue on Tuesday - NDTV
Mullaperiyar: DMK MPs to observe one-day fast - IBNLive
Mullaperiyar dam row: Uneasy calm on TN-Kerala border, Karunanidhi slams UPA govt - Times of India
Centre won’t take sides on Mullaperiyar issue: Antony - Deccan Chronicle.

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Updated on Dec 11, 2011:

Dammed if they do:
In this article, writer argues that the farmers of Tamil Nadu who has benefited from the waters of Mullaperiyar must show gratitude to Kerala and not anger and resentment as seen now. Writer argues that the agreements between Kerala and Tamil Nadu were fundamentally wrong and one sided.

A special assembly session is called in Tamil Nadu called:
A special assembly session is called in Tamil Nadu on December 15th like the one held in Kerala recently. Such as the rare unanimity seen in Kerala, Tamil Nadu's assembly meet is also expected to come out with unanimous resolutions and decisions. "The resolution that this state will not give up our rights over Mullaperiyar because of the imaginary threat to the safety and security of the dam," is expected to be passed in the assembly.

Tamil Nadu's firebrand politician Vaiko to visit Kerala border Kaliyakkavilai:
On Dec 21st, Tamil political leader Vaiko will be visiting Kaliyakkavilai in Kanniyakumari district in Tamil Nadu - (Based on Deepika newspaper report).

Leaders such as Vaiko of Tamil Nadu is making provocative speeches which might cause more problems between people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala with regards to the Mullaperiyar issue. In the latest report Vaiko is scheduled to speak in Kaliyakkavilai border town which might cause another violence between people of both states.

There has been a lot of love and respect between people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala and any damage to that cordial relations would be a major price for the Mullaperiyar controversy. Deepika report says that Vaiko was in the same border town one and half years before campaigning about the Mullaperiyar Issue. Police found it very hard to control both parties (people from Tamil Nadu and Kerala) during that time. However the lack of amity that people witnessed after that issue has been longstanding and the harmony between both states was lost at least in that region due to the incident.

Central Govt’ active participation as a neutral negotiator may be the only solace for both states in this environment of mistrust. They have not yet been successful in bringing the parties together so far. However, like what defense minister A. K. Antony said last day, central Govt. does not have the power to issue orders to any state. But they can still stand as a credible negotiator and they have a responsibility to do that in the federal setup.

KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation)  buses shy of plying in Tamil Nadu:
The attacks are continuing and KSRTC (Kerala State Road Transport Corporation) is forced to pull out schedules due to the deteriorating situation. The escalating situation on the various border towns of Kerala with Tamil Nadu due to Mullaperiyar issue will do no good for the cause of Mullaperiyar. Politicians and people of both states must keep calm and come to an amicable settlement to Mullaperiyar Dam issue at the earliest.

Dam Safety Bill - the panacea is stuck in Indian parliament:
Dam safety bill pending in the parliament which will create an authority for Dam Safety in India is touted to be a panacea for all of India’s Dam safety issues including the Mullaperiyar issue. However, there is no momentum for it at the moment in Indian parliament. Parliament which is wasting its work days over numerous sometimes petty, issues, however does not have the time and energy to discuss such a vital law making is a sad situation.

It seems this bill is waiting in the parliament for 30 years. As suggested in the article, the agency that will be built for Dam safety in India should be above state and central Govt. so that they can work independently without political influences.

Parliament must complete the matter at the earliest by establishing an agency capable of inspecting a ordering the closure of any Dam at any time on account of safety.

CWC's (Central Water Commission) track record in inspecting and maintaining Dams in India is abysmal. In the past, Dams under their watch and certified functioning well are known to have breached in India.

See the Decay : Pictures from the site: Mullaperiyar Dam:
This page has some very shocking photos of the Mullaperiyar Dam. This gives us a feeling of having visited the site in person. The deterioration and decay of the Dam is well visible in many photos on the page. The page rightly says that Kerala should not take any chances with its people’s life.

Further Reading:
Dammed if they do - Indian Express
Journey to Mullaperiyar – Shocking facts -
Mullaperiyar stir: KSRTC buses run for cover -
Dam safety Bill moots penalties, regulator -
Mullaperiyar row: Jaya to convene special assembly session -

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Updated on Dec 10, 2011:

Erath Quake reported in Mullaperiyar Dam region :
An Earthquake measuring 2.4 on the Richter scale is reported today in Idukki region. Kulamvu, Moolamattam, Upputhura, Cheruthoni are the regions affected. People are afraid after this latest Earthquake. There have been 26 such mild Earthquakes so far in this region. The Earthquake was also felt in some regions in Kottayam district of Kerala. The fact that the Earthquake happened in the region were Mullaperiyar Dam is located, adds to the fear about the Dam. This reinforces the doubt that Kerala had been expressing over the Dam's safety.

Mullaperiyar Dam is full of Cavities:
In this alarming report appearing in Times of India says that the Mullaperiyar Dam is full of cavities including in the foundation some large enough for a man to enter. The report says that the Tamil Nadu engineers who were present during the inspection by an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) on instructions from the Supreme Court's empowered committee is also aware of the situation. Report says that the water resources minister PJ Joseph and Chief minister Oommen Chandy of Kerala has studied the report in-depth.

Citizen at Court to quash the lease pact with Kerala and Tamil Nadu:
Battle for Mullaperiyar is already in the Hon'ble Supreme Court. A civil suit was filed before the Ernakulam District Court on Friday seeking a directive to declare the lease agreement over the land in which the Mullaperiyar dam is constructed, as outdated. The petitioner argues that the agreement was signed pre-independence and after the independence the agreement stands void though the agreement was renewed in 1970's.

Jayalaitha takes to print media with page full page of Ads on Mullaperiyar dispute:
In an interesting new development on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue, After yesterdays unanimous resolution by the Kerala assembly in support of building a new dam at Mullaperiyar, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu has appealed to the people of the Kerala state "not to succumb to divisive forces" in a full page ad taken out in Kerala's major newspapers.

Following are some of the declarations in the advertisements by AIADMK in Kerala's main stream print media.

"The Mullaperiyar dam is safe. It is designed to absorb and moderate flood upto 400000 cusecs,"

"Human settlement in the area is much above flood waters of Mullaperiyar. Only illegal resorts by land grabbers will get submerged when storage is raised. Some cite this as reason for the plea against dam," it adds.

The advertisements ends with the declaration on relations between both states - "We are both committed to maintaining and cherishing cordial relations."

Karunanidhi's DMK has been spearheading a campaign to put the blame on the AIADMK Govt. headed by Ms. Jayalalitha ruling Tamil Nadu. DMK has announced a human wall like the one built in Kerala by the LDF this week.

While the dispute boils, poor people living around the Dam are suffering:
While the issue boils, the livelihoods are at risk too. Farmers in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu are suffering as they trade between the states. Moving of vehicles between both states, Tamil workers not being able to attend the farms of Keralites in Idukki etc are proving to be very difficult for the farmers causing untold miseries.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar: Just a dam of cavities - Times of India
Plea to declare Mullaperiyar lease pact outdated - IBNLive
Mullaperiyar row: In full-page ads, Jayalalithaa says dam is safe - NDTV
Mullaperiyar: Grapes, lives rot as dam issue boils - Times of India

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Updated on Dec 09, 2011:

Rare unanimity in Kerala assembly:
A special session of the Kerala assembly adopted a resolution calling for a new Dam at Mullaperiyar and asking for the water level to be stipulated at 120 feet. Resolution also announced their commitment to continue to give water to Tamil Nadu.

The political parties in Kerala which have never have unanimity on any issue, this time came together strongly with one voice on the Dam issue. Only on the issue of the advocate generals statement in Kerala high court opposition blamed the Govt.

However fact is that such resolutions for a new Dam at Mullaperiyar was passed by the Govt's in the past also in Kerala. There seems to be no firm indication of a resolution of this vexed issue whatsoever on the horizon.

Ministers KM Mani and PJ Joseph of Kerala congress spoke sternly at the assembly. They have been fighting more vigorously than any other political party on the Mullaperiyar issue. PJ Jospeh has threatened to go on fast at Delhi and KM Mani said that the Prime Minister must make use of his powers to bring out a resolution to the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.

Protection Dam idea gaining momentum:
The subject committee of the Kerala Assembly headed by Water Resources Minister P. J. Joseph visited Mullaperiyar dam as part of its assessment of the Mullaperiyar issue on Thursday. 

Tamil Nadu officials who were informed prior to the visit did not turn up at the Dam site. 

A new idea being mooted by the subject committee has been to build a new Protection Dam down stream so that a break in the Mullaperiyar Dam can be contended in the new Dam. This idea is gaining momentum because Tamil Nadu is not agreeing to decommission the existing Dam.  In this case, Tamil Nadu will continue to get the water from the existing Dam too. Kerala would need only central environmental clearance to go ahead an implement such a plan. 

Also a request would be made to Tamil Nadu to reduce the water levels to 120 feet till the construction of the new Dam is completed. Yesterday when subject committee visited the Dam site, Tamil did not allow them to visit the Dam gallery. This is because Kerala’s water resources minister P J Joseph last week extracted some Surkhi material from the gallery which was leaking and showed it to the waiting journalists. Large quantity of Surkhi used in the construction is said to be leaking in the Mullaperiyar Dam. This is when the external world came to know that a large amount of Surkhi is leaking away from the Dam.

Dam gallery is meant to inspect the Dam for its safety and leakage levels. It is needed to go into the gallery to get a clear picture of the Dams condition. Experts in the team said that as the Dam is leaking in many areas, no major inspection is needed to understand that the Dam is in a weak and decaying state. 

Dam Safety bill from the central Govt. has been one of the things Kerala’s water resources minister PJ Joseph has been asking for long. He says that the bill needs to come along urgently. He says that it will solve a lot of problems not only with regards to the safety of Mullaperiyar Dam but many Dams across the country.

Further Reading:
Kerala Assembly adopts resolution for new dam - The Hindu

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Updated on Dec 08, 2011:

Tamil Nadu does not want to talk to Kerala about Mullaperiyar :
December 16 talks scheduled between Tamil Nadu and Kerala and mediated by the central Govt. is not to be attended by Tamil Nadu. It seems that this decision is influenced by the fact that they want to wait for the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s final verdict as the empowered committee headed by former Chief Justice A. S. Anand is making their investigations. Tamil Nadu seems to be expecting a favourable decision from the Hon’ble Supreme Court on the water level at 142 feet argument in the case. This move is definitely going to complicate the situation as in Kerala, people are very upset and looking forward to rapid progress being made.

Protestors form human wall in Kerala led by LDF:
The latest in Mullaperiyar dispute is that the LDF (Left Democratic Front) which is the opposition party in Kerala is organizing a human wall. This wall will be built from Mullaperiyar in Idukki district of Kerala to Kochi. Time that they have scheduled is around 4 PM in the evening and it will cover the districts of Idukki, Kottayam, and Ernakulam districts.

While in Kerala protests at various levels and areas are ongoing, Tamil leaders such as Vaiko is also organising protests against Kerala’s demands. They state that the Kerala politicians are making this an issue and the issue does not merit such attention as called for.

Violence is reported in cities such as Coimbatore and Chennai: 
This report says that in Coimbatore where many Keralites have business interests, widespread attacks have happened. Police in Coimbatore is on alert and are trying hard to prevent any serious attacks and violence. As the dispute is becoming more and more contentious between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in the coming days more law and order problems must be expected. Near Coimbatore central railway station, near Gandhipuram where the main markets and important streets are, groups of people have participated in attacks and violence.

In some cases Police where able to reach the spot quickly and prevent the attackers. However in some other cases, attackers have been able to cause some damages such as damage to the glass, furniture's etc. Some of them were reportedly shouting that Keralites can leave the state if they can’t cooperate on the Dam issue.

Further Reading:
Tamil Nadu not to take part in talks on Mullaperiyar dam issue – The Hindu
Indian protesters form human wall to demand new dam - BBC News
Mullaperiyar spills over to city streets - Times of India

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Updated on Dec 07, 2011:

Battle is in Indian parliament: Tamil Nadu and Kerala members clash:
This is not unusual in India. As this issue is burning in the hearts of Keralites and those who might get no water due to the Dam closing in Tamil Nadu, it is not unexpected. Members from Kerala and Tamil Nadu clashed in Rajya Sabha over Mullaperiyar Dam controversy, seeking Centre's intervention in resolving the contentious issue.

Ayyappa devotees from Tamil Nadu attacked in Kerala:
In a sign of growing unrest in Kerala on the Mullaperiyar issue, Sabarimala pilgrims, Ayyappa devotees from Tamil Nadu have been fearing attacks in Kerala. These developments will not in any manner help the cause of a new Dam as it will polarize both states in a bad turn of events.

Though political parties and leaders from both sides have been appealing for calm, there seems to be no let up in the mood of agitation and violence, though mild, so far, in both states.

On the Tamil Nadu sides, latest reports state that there have been attacks on Keralites shops in Chennai and Coimbatore. Some Jewelers in Coimbatore have been attacked. Police in Tamil Nadu have registered a case. Joy Alukkas jewellery shop also has been reportedly attacked by vandals.

Dams in the down stream may not survive a Mullaperiyar breach:
This new report of different accounts of whether or not the Idukki Dam can withstand the deluge from a broken Mullaperiyar Dam has been coming out since last two days. In the Kerala high court two experts have given varying account of what would happen in such an eventuality. Kerala high court asked the Govt. to study more accurately on this subject and report back to the court in the next session.

Mullaperiyar Dam issue and the News Media:
There are more than 800 news articles grouped in Google News as of today evening 6 PM (IST) on Mullaperiyar Dam issue. This time it does not seems to die down so soon. Every time the problem has been that after an initial outcry, the issue dies a silent death.

This time around, the national News Papers, TV channels sites, other blogs, and social networking sites, etc participated in an incessant news flow on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.

NDTV, IBN Live,, The Hindu, Times of India, Deccan Chronicle, etc have been at the forefront of bringing the latest news and developments on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.

BBC was the only global media known to participate in bringing out the developments in Mullaperiyar as of today. American news papers such as The New York Times, Washington Post, or LA Times is not seen publishing any news items in this connection so far. Within the social networking channels, page on the facebook is seen to be quiet active with minute by minute postings. Some of the posts are very funny also. Some are of a very serious nature. Many people post in Malayalam, publish interesting graphics also along with the posts.

In Kerala news sites, and has been providing the best news coverage on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar: Kerala, TN members clash in RS‎ - Hindustan Times
Mullaperiyar issue: Scared Ayyappa devotees from TN returning home - Asian Age
‘Cheruthoni, Kulamavu dams may not survive if Mullaperiyar collapses’ - The Hindu

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Updated on Dec 06, 2011:

Mullaperiyar Dam : Clashes reported at Kerala - Tamil Nadu border:
Kerala Tamil Nadu border clashes are the latest reports that are coming in on the Mullaperiyar Dam controversy. If this is the way matter is progressing, there will be no easy solution to this dispute. People and politicians from both states need to take in to account the others concerns and find an amicable settlement to this controversy.

Kerala Chief minister in a statement today said that people of Kerala must maintain calm and must not indulge in violent protests with regards to Mullaperiyar Dam issue. He said that any violence will only affect the effort to come to a resolution adversely. He reiterated that all efforts are being made to find out a solution to the issue.

Chief minister stated that Tamil Nadu has agreed to come for talks and that the talks will happen soon. He said that the Kerala police DGP is in touch with Tamil Nadu police and holding discussions so that no untoward incidents happen. Chief minister Oommen Chandy said that he instructed DGP Jacob Punnose to ensure that nothing happens in Kerala that will damage the cordial relations between both states.

Tamil Nadu is a state that does not have many rivers:
This article describes in depth about the political positions, technical aspects, and suggest solutions on how the row can be ended. it says that the Tamil Nadu being a riparian state is dependent for neighbouring states for water.

In the year 1979, minister PJ Joseph delivered the same fervent appeal he did this year in assembly:
TOI article explains that the same sequence of events where PJ Joseph pleaded with the assembly to act and get the act together has happened in the year 1979 also. Remember that this time the issue triggered with PJ Josephs emotional appeal to the Govt. and the centre to do something urgently. Which means this fervent appeals and warning on the harms done if the Dam is breached, has been going on for many years now.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar dam row: Clashes at Kerala-Tamil Nadu border post - NDTV
Concerns of a lower riparian State - Dailypioneer
Mullaperiyar story was the same in 1979 too - Times of India

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Updated on Dec 05, 2011:

An agreement that's not of equals by any standard:
Article delves into the subject of water sharing agreements that Kerala has a history of committing blunders with. Mullaperiyar agreement with Tamil Nadu is one such agreement which was renewed even as recently as 1970's in its 110 year old history. This renewal was also done in a seemingly one sided manner where most benefits went to them and we got pennies in return. At least a clause could have been added about Mullaperiyar Dam decommissioning at a stipulated time.

Supreme Court's empowered panel on Mullaperiyar meets:
Supreme Court appointed panel has met with the lawyers of both states and took inputs about their positions. While Kerala's lawyers wanted the committee to take into account frequent tremors in the region and damage caused to the Dam due to these tremors, Tamil Nadu's lawyers argued for the Dam water level to be increased to 142 feet.

Vaiko, the firebrand politician of Tamil Nadu enters the fray of Mullaperiyar's renewed dsipute:
Vaiko is one the most firebrand leaders of Tamil Nadu. Meeting the PM at his residence, he said that Kerala was creating panic and there was nothing wrong with the Dam.

Further Reading:
Sreelatha Menon: Quite a dam-age - Business Standard
SC panel on Mullaperiyar meets - Deccan Chronicle
Prevent Kerala from building new Mullaperiyar dam: Vaiko to PM - IBN Live

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Updated on Dec 04, 2011:

Mullaperiyar dispute is about Kerala's sovereignty:
Article argues that as a sovereign state owner of Mullaperiyar Dam, Kerala can kick out Tamil Nadu. The question is why can't we cancel the lease agreement which is clearly one sided? Tamil Nadu has the control of the Dam, it gets the water, it makes electricity  and it pays pennies for the great catch.

Jayalalitha writes to Prime Minister on Mullaperiyar Dam security:
Jayalalitha, the Tamil Nadu CM is asking for CISF security for he Mullaperiyar Dam while millions of people in Kerala are living in mortal fears. Tamil Nadu is giving no consideration to Keralites plight with Mullaperiyar Dam is very evident from the position Tamil Nadu Govt. has been taking on this issue.

India's integrity is being questioned by events like interstate Mullaperiyar Dam dispute:
Article explains that India's Unity in Diversity is a farce and a problem that must be considered a national problem is not being taken that way. People are thinking on the basis of narrow regional interests. While Tamil Nadu has used Kerala's river water for more than 100 years for an unimaginably low rate, when Keralites have a problem, a mortal fear about the safety of the very Dam that provided water to Tamil Nadu all these years, Tamil Nadu does not seem to be concerned.

Kerala is only asking for Mullaperiyar Dam to be decommissioned and never stated a condition that water will not be provided to Tamil Nadu. They have clearly stated that the water will continue to flow into Tamil Nadu even after the new Dam is commissioned.

Let me quote from the article below.

"Whenever a terror attack or security breach happens in our country, we point fingers at our neighbouring country. But here is a problem that can take the lives of so many innocent Indians, which can be stopped. And what exactly is our political leadership in this country doing? Nothing."

An in-depth technical and analytical story on Mullaperiyar Dam issue:
This is a blog article I discovered today which delves in depth into the results of various studies conducted by different agencies on the Mullaperiyar Dam. James Wilson is Assistant Executive Engineer (Civil), Kerala State Electricity Board. Presently working as a member of the Mullaperiyar Special Cell, Government of Kerala on deputation according to the blog. He is associated with Mullaperiyar case since year 2006. The main focus of the article is the details on the seismic threat we are all fearing for the Mullaperiyar Dam.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar: It’s not about safety, but Kerala's sovereignty -
Jayalalithaa writes to PM on Mullaperiyar dam security - NDTV
Mullaperiyar dam: An unimaginable disaster waiting to happen - Rediff
Mullaperiyar - In search of truth -

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Updated on Dec 03, 2011:

Advocate General of Kerala confuses and complicates Kerala's legal position:
Advocate General of Kerala, does not look like living in that state. He gave a statement in High court yesterday that the Mullaperiyar Dam is safe and even if it brakes, water will be held safe by the down stream Dams of Idukki, Kulamavu, and Cheruthoni. This stand is exact opposite of what people of Kerala and the Govt. is saying. From where in the world, he got this idea is unclear. But it is definitely not the Govt's pronounced stand. KP Dandapni's statement in state High Court is in sharp contract to three decade old stance of the Kerala Government.

Accusation is that he is Tamil Nadu state's agent and his wife appeared in Court over the same issue representing Tamil Nadu.

Mullaperiyar dam: Kerala leader Chandy meets PM Singh:
Global media has also started reporting the Mullaperiyar Dam issue with a BBC report yesterday - linked below.

Dam issue: Programmer develops warning system:
The situation warrants efforts such as this as the fear is increasing each passing day of a Mullaperiyar Dam break. Govt. of Kerala has also asked for a Dam break analysis by Roorkee IIT - report to be submitted within six months.

Tamil Nadu fully aware of danger to Mullaperiyar dam:
Report says that the inspection carried out using a remotely operated vehicle has found a show a deep fracture along the entire 1,200 ft length of the dam's foundation. Tamil Nadu, in the past also seems to have not revealed everything they know about the condition of the Mullaperiyar Dam through similar inspections conducted.

Mullaperiyar: TN not to participate in talks:
Central Govt's efforts to mediate between Tamil Nadu and Kerala seems to have faulted from the very beginning. Tamil Nadu Government on Saturday said it will not attend the official-level informal talks being convened by the Centre on Monday next. This has set back the efforts to bring the urgency of the Mullaperiyar matter to Tamil Nadu's attention in the very beginning of a renewed process.

Centre will be blamed if Mullaperiyar dam COLLAPSES: Kerala:
Rightly, minister PJ Joseph of Kerala is holding the centre responsible if something happens to Mullaperiyar Dam. Though it will not bring people back to life and the catastrophe undone even if someone takes responsibility, this statement makes things clear to the central Govt. who can not be a mute spectator to a bewildered Kerala.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar safe: Kerala AG - DNA
Mullaperiyar dam: Kerala leader Chandy meets PM Singh - BBC News
Dam issue: Programmer develops warning system - IBN Live
Tamil Nadu fully aware of danger to Mullaperiyar dam - Times of India
Mullaperiyar: TN not to participate in talks - The Hindu
Centre will be blamed if Mullaperiyar dam COLLAPSES: Kerala -

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Updated on Dec 02, 2011:

Mullaperiyar dam: Children in Vallakadavu traumatised:
Children go to school with rubber tubes so that they can cling to safety and stay afloat if the Dam broke. Such is the panic among children in the area reports NDTV. They don't sleep well and sometimes wake up suddenly asking whether the Dam has burst. With Tamil Nadu and Kerala arguing fervently with each other, each passing day, people of Kerala and especially the ones living near the Mullaperiyar Dam is getting more anxious. Some villages will wash away in seven minutes if the Dam brakes. The possibility is real when you consider the Dam which is Lime and Surki built is more than 100 years old.

Letter from Jayalalithaa to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy:
In this letter, Jayalalitha is referring to the courts pronouncements in the past, the fact that the Dam was strengthen by Tamil Nadu and that makes it as good as new, etc. She also says that the tremors were few and does not warrant any attention because tremors were not very close to the Dam. She advises Chief Minister Oommen Chandy of Kerala not to spread panic.

View: Why Mullaperiyar dam needs to be decommissioned URGENTLY!:
In the article appearing in, the writer argues that the Mullaperiyar Dam should have been decommissioned long back. “Kerala assembly has passed a dam safety act in 2006 that requires it to decommission unsafe structures like the Mullaperiyar dam.” However nothing has materialized. Assembly is planning to pass another resolution now in year 2011. What use are these resolutions if nothing can be achieved on the ground to allay the fears of citizens? Article states that other countries do decommission Dam. The United States is said to have decommissioned  1000th Dam in this very year alone. Article says that the central water commission (CWC) always takes a pro-dam stance and is against decommissioning the Mullaperiyar Dam. Article argues that there is little expertise in India in the issue of Dam safety. Incidentally, the Apex court appointed committee is meeting on Dec 5, 2011. Another point to note is that Periyar Basin from which water flows into Mullaperiyar Dam, is located entirely in Kerala and yet the water is given to Tamil Nadu. No other states in India does this even if the water basin is in the neighboring state.

Further Reading:
Mullaperiyar dam: Children in Vallakadavu traumatised - NDTV
Letter from Jayalalithaa to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy - NDTV
View: Why Mullaperiyar dam needs to be decommissioned URGENTLY! - Rediff

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Updated on Dec 01, 2011:

Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy writes to Tamil Nadu chief minister to reduce the water level from 136.6 feet that’s current to 120 feet.

Children discuss Mullaperiyar issue:
This story talks about a discussion that was held among children and what they feel about the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.

Solve Mullaperiyar issue amicably : Tamilians:
Lakhs of Tamilians live in Kerala and many more Keralites are in Tamil Nadu. We must think if the two states quarrel like this, how it will affect this population living in the neighboring states. Merits of the arguments must be considered and on the basis of which decisions must be taken. Govt. has to keep a cool mind and find a solution and consider the urgency of the matter. Peoples anxiety must be removed and all steps must be taken to achieve that goal.

The Dams videshi builders rest in peace here:
While the controversy over the Dam builds,
Collin Westermann Taylor 1894, Harry Scott Taylor 1891, Tom Roger King the inscriptions in a shrubbery cemetery by the Mullaperiyar Dam. Contained within the pages of some forgotten history, these names stand mute witness to the controversies now racking the dam.

Achuthanandan threatens to go on fast:
Probably inspired by Anna Hazare, Kerala’s opposition leader VS Achuthanandan is threatening to go on indefinite hunger strike over the Mullaperiyar issue.

Mullaperiyar Dam: Tamil Nadu takes Kerala to court for 'creating panic:
They can’t go to court against the people of Kerala. So they have gone against the Govt. of Kerala. This dispute is taking on new proportions. How it will be resolved is an open question. With both parties sticking to their guns, where it is taking us is anybody’s guess.

Further Reading:
Children discuss Mullaperiyar issue – IBNLive
Solve Mullaperiyar issue amicably : Tamilians - Times of India
The Dams videshi builders rest in peace here – IBNLive
Achuthanandan threatens to go on fast – IBN Live
Mullaperiyar Dam: Tamil Nadu takes Kerala to court for 'creating panic – NDTV

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End of the main article.


The legendary British engineer who built the engineering marvel called Mullaperiyar Dam, comes back to life and goes to Mullaperiyar. What happens next is the focus of this separate story at the bottom of the main article.

Sir, Why the Mullaperiyar was leased for an endless 999 years?

Engineer Colonel John Pennycuick, who is revered by those who benefit from the Mullaperiyar Dam, the legendary builder of Mullaperiyar Dam, comes back to life and goes to Mullaperiyar. What happens next is the focus of this story.

He went to Mullaperiyar because he remembered about a Dam that he built in spite of a lot of hardships due to the landscape and thick forest surrounding the site. It is in the year 2011 that the respected British engineer who built the Mullaperiyar Dam was resurrected and went to the area where he built the Mullaperiyar Dam.

He goes to the site where the Dam was built and is stunned to see the Dam still standing there more than 110 years after he built it. He called a man in the nearby ‘Chappath’ and asks him some questions; Let us call the man on the street as Jacob, a Keralite. Let us also assume Jacob can speak English well.

What is this? Why is this Dam still here? “Didn’t I stipulate that it must be decommissioned after 50 years max?”

“Yes Sir” replied Jacob. I also don’t know why. There is protest going on in Chappath near Mullaperiyar and many other places in Idukki district of today’s Kerala state against the Dam you built. Sir they are asking for decommissioning and building of a new one.

Who is stopping from decommissioning it? I am surprised that it is still standing here.

Sir, Tamil Nadu is running the Dam’s daily affairs. The land around it and the Dam is in their control as you might recall, a lease agreement for 999 years is in affect.

Are they expecting it will stand even after 999 years? My God, it can collapse any moment.

Sir, Kerala Govt. has asked IIT Roorkee to conduct Dam break analysis.

Fools! What’s the use of that? How would it help to know how much water will rise where after the Dam brakes?

That will help us prepare the disaster management team sir’. Also we can estimate the cost of the Dam break.

Guys you are Crazy! State Govt. has to build a new one immediately. Why don’t they do that?

Sir’ Tamil Nadu is saying Dam is strong and that they have strengthened it using concrete. But we believe what they have done are cosmetic reinforcements. We are also worried about Earthquakes. Some tremors of mild intensity have already happened around the Dam site. Sir, In fact Tamil Nadu want to increase the Dam height and make the water level at 142 feet and we want to bring the water level in the Dam down to 120 feet for safety and anxiety reduction. Sir, people of Kerala are scared to death about the Dam you built. Our children are not sleeping in the night. They are asking when the Dam will break and does not sleep well.

My God’ Earthquakes! What is going on here? Who the hell is running the country?

Sir, our Chief Minister has gone to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Chief of the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi. Sir, we hope and believe that he will come back with good news.

Why don’t you decommission the Dam without waiting for anyone to permition?

How can we do that Sir? Dam is administered by Tamil Nadu and we need their permission to do anything.

Man you are crazy! I didn’t build this dam for ever. Every Dam has a life. Mullaperiyar is not a forever Dam. With the earthquakes and water levels so high for an old Dam like this, it can break any time. By the way let me ask you, what is Tamil Nadu doing with all the water and how much do you get for the water?

Sir, Tamil Nadu government has been paying to the Kerala government for the past 50 years INR2.5 lakhs as tax per year for the whole land and INR7.5 lakhs per year as surcharge for the total amount of electricity generated – that’s as per Wikipedia Sir. Else where in other Indian states water is paid 1000 times more than that.

What would Tamil Nadu do if dam brakes? Where will they get the water from?

That’s what. Sir, they say it is not going to break for many more years. They are in no mood for a new Dam at Mullaperiyar.

Do you think your prime minister or court can find some solution?

I don’t think so sir. Chances are less. Tamil Nadu has a history of water disputes with all its neighbours. No politician or political party in Tamil Nadu seems to be agreeing to a compromise on a ‘water dispute’.

Then what would the people of Kerala do? I am telling you, Kerala is lucky Dam is still standing. Whether or not it can stand for some more years, is a million dollar question. From the safety angle it must be brought down immediately. How are you going to do that if Prime Minister and Court fail to make their verdicts in favour of decommissioning?

Sir, what do you suggest in such an event? Officials from kerala are sometimes not even allowed in the area of the Mullaperiyar Dam by Tamil Nadu. Indian Navy team who went to analyze the Dam with under water robots were once sent back by Tamil Nadu.

Don’t tell anyone that I told you! because it is not right for me to suggest such a thing. What you can do is, forcibly decommission it as any break in the Dam would do larger damage than the problem of a forced decommissioning. Do it fast and you can sleep well. Your children can stop crying. Do it slowly, don’t blame me. I built it for a maximum of 50 years. I told you.

Sir, I wish we can talk to our Tamil brothers and convince them though it may be hard. If nothing works, we will have to think about what you suggested.

In Tamil Nadu there is a nuclear plant that has come up in Koodankulam. Govt. of Tamil Nadu supported the people’s agitation there about safety of the plant saying that a Tsunami could strike the Tamil cost and endanger people’s lives. Look at their double standards on Mullaperiyar Dam issue where Keralites are left to worry for their lives in a much bigger likelihood of danger.

I have to go to the UK. I have to see my great grand children.

Sir, let me ask you some more questions. How come you British forced our little Kingdom before independence to a 999 years lease?

Don’t ask me that question. I am only an engineer, a Dam designer. However, I now feel that it was a very wrong move. It was subjugation of the powerless little Kingdom.

We can’t blame you, British. Our own Kerala Govt. renewed this lease agreement in 1970 with almost the same provisions. The issue is one of water, one that concerns both states.

Why was this unfair agreement signed by the Travancore kingdom, do you have any idea?

At the time of the agreement first signed in 1895, five districts of Tamil Nadu had no water for drinking and irrigation. At that time the agreement looked fair in the larger interest of the nation and the region. However, terms such as the financial compensation could have been revised in the recent re-agreement. In 1895, people depended on this project for drinking water, irrigation for a very large area of land. The water from the Mullaperiyar Dam completely changed the landscape of an otherwise drought prone and famine prone region of state of erstwhile Madras.

What would happen to those who enjoy the water of Mullaperiyar in Tamil Nadu if the tap is turned off now?

Denial of availability of water from the Mullaperiyar will be disastrous for the people and agriculture now. On an afterthought I feel that the agreement should have stipulated a life time for the Dam and it’s decommissioning after that period. That would have been the best thing to do by those who sat down and signed the agreement.

What is the opinion of your Chief Minister?

‘Water for TN and Safety for Kerala’ – that’s what he says is the slogan of Kerala. Sir, But I am afraid if the Dam brakes both wont be there. Tamil Nadu better know that they will never get water again for sure, if the Dam brakes.

Let me go to England and think of a solution.

Right now I don’t see a solution other than forcible decommission and reconstruction, canceling the lease agreement unilaterally. Even if there is a minor doubt about the safety of the Dam, the benefit of that doubt should be in favour of safety of the people of Kerala. Contractual rights of Tamil Nadu are not superior to the right to life of the people of Kerala.

Bye for now, Jacob. I will pray for Keralites safety – that’s all I can say now.

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