Jaya gesture saves Kerala farmlands


Thiruvananthapuram: The Tamil Nadu government, which may remain cold to Kerala’s safety concerns over the Mullaip­e­riyar dam, has sacrificed its share of waters in Parambikulam and Shola­yar reservoirs to save acres of ‘cole’ (farm) land in Thrissur from being flooded this monsoon.
The Jayalalithaa government, in an unprecedented and large-hearted gesture, has consented to re-direct Neerar, a tributary of the Periyar, to Idam­alayar dam in Ernakulam district. Besi­des saving its ‘cole’ lands from destruction, Kerala will also gain an additional 5 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water (enough to generate 40 million units of power) at the cost of the neighbouing state.
Under the existing river water agreements, Tamil Nadu has the right to divert water from Neerar to Parambikulam and Sholayar dams in the Chalakkudy Puzha basin for its use. Water thus diverted, after filling Sholayar and Parmbi­kulam reservoirs, ultimately ends up in Poringal Kuthu.
“But the monsoon this year was so heavy that the Poringal Kuthu reservoir was already full,” said Dr Sekhar Kuriakose, the nodal officer of the state disaster relief cell. The surplus from Poringal threatened to submerge large swathes of ‘cole’ land in Thrissur.
“We found that the best way to arrest the flooding of Thrissur ‘cole’ lands was to stop the diversion from Neerar to the Chalakkudy basin,” said Sudheer P, the deputy director of the inter-state water wing of the irrigation department who mooted the idea. It was logical to divert the water to Idamalayar as the monsoon was less intense in Ernakulam district.
“Moreover, the Periyar has a lot more depth and holding capacity than the Chalakkudy river. Even if the Idamalayar dam overflows, the Periyar can absorb the surplus without much ado,” said Dr Kuriakose.
Tamil Nadu agreed to the diversion without see­k­­ing compensation. It is an­­other matter that the ad­ditional 1 tmcft of water diverted to the Idamalayar by Kerala could not have been put to productive use by Tamil Nadu as the Sholayar and Paramb­iku­lam reservoirs too have been filled to capacity.

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