- April 6, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Context- The Centre on Tuesday suggested to the Supreme Court to let the Mullaperiyar dam supervisory committee continue for a year, by which time the National Dam Safety Authority under the new Dam Safety Act will become fully functional.
- A petition was filed by a resident of Idukki district of Kerala to lower the water level of Mullaperiyar dam to about 130 feet saying there is a danger of earthquakes and floods in the area as monsoon progresses in the State.
- Kerala said the water level should not go above 139 feet, the same as what the court had ordered on August 24, 2018, when the State was hit by floods. It is because the lives of 50 lakh people would be in danger if the water level in the dam is raised.
- However, Tamil Nadu objected to this decision citing the Supreme Court judgments of 2006 and 2014, which fixed the maximum water level at 142 feet.
- The SC constituted a permanent Supervisory Committee in 2014 to oversee all the issues concerning Mullaperiyar dam. The dam is a source of friction between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Dam Safety Act, 2021:
- “An Act to provide for the surveillance, inspection, operation, and maintenance of the specified dam for prevention of dam failure related disasters and to provide for an institutional mechanism to ensure their safe functioning and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”
- Features of the act:
- The National Committee on Dam Safety will be constituted and will be chaired by the chairperson, Central Water Commission.
- Functions of the committee will include formulating policies and regulations regarding dam safety standards and prevention of dam failures, analyzing the causes of major dam failures, and suggesting changes in dam safety practices.
- National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) to be headed by an officer, not below the rank of an Additional Secretary, to be appointed by the central government.
- The main task of this authority includes implementing the policies formulated by the National Committee on Dam Safety, resolving issues between State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), or between an SDSO and any dam owner in that state, specifying regulations for inspection and investigation of dams.
- The NDSA will also provide accreditation to agencies working on construction, design, and alteration of dams.
- The act also envisages constituting a State Dam Safety Organisation (SDSO) whose functions will be to keep perpetual surveillance, inspection, monitoring the operation and maintenance of dams, keeping a database of all dams, and recommending safety measures to owners of dams.
- The owners of the specified dams are required to provide
- A dam safety unit in each dam to inspect the dams before and after the monsoon session, and during and after any calamity or sign of distress.
- An emergency action plan, and carry out risk assessment studies for each dam at specified regular intervals.
- A comprehensive dam safety evaluation of each dam, at regular intervals, through a panel of experts.
- The Mullaperiyar, a 123-year-old dam, is located on the confluence of the Mullayar and Periyar rivers in Kerala’s Idukki district.
- The dam stands at the height of 53.66 metres and 365.85 metres in length.
- It is operated and maintained by the Tamil Nadu for meeting the drinking water and irrigation requirements of five of its southern districts.
- According to a 999-year lease agreement made during the British rule the operational rights were handed over to Tamil Nadu.
- The dam intends to divert the waters of the west-flowing river Periyar eastward to the arid rain shadow regions of the Tamil Nadu.
- The Periyar River is the longest river in the state of Kerala with a length of 244 km.
- It is also known as ‘Lifeline of Kerala’ as it is one of the few perennial rivers in the state.
- A perennial river is a channel that has continuous flow in parts of its stream bed all year round.
- Periyar River originates from Sivagiri hills of Western Ghats and flows through the Periyar National Park.
- The main tributaries of Periyar are Muthirapuzha, Mullayar, Cheruthoni, Perinjankutti.