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Debate over Mullaperiyar dam safety

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Debate over Mullaperiyar dam safety

Recently, the Supreme Court has directed the Center to make the authority functional under the Dam Safety Act, 2021 in the Mullaperiyar dam case.

 The Supreme Court has asked the Center to elaborate on the plan to start functioning of the National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) and other bodies under the Act.

During the hearing, the Court observed that the Dam Safety Act of 2021 is of utmost importance to end the enduring legal dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala over the Mullaperiyar Dam.

Dam Safety Act:

  • It is a comprehensive act for monitoring, inspection, operation and maintenance of dams to prevent disasters.
  • The Act mandates the establishment of two special bodies. These bodies will focus on developing policies, recommending regulations for dam safety standards, and resolving disputes between states.

Other Facts:

  • Under the National Dam Safety Committee and the National Dam Safety Authority (NDSA) Act, dam owners must prepare an emergency action plan.
  • Also, they will have to conduct risk assessment studies for each dam at prescribed regular intervals.
  • Importance of Dams and Dams Safety Dams play an important role in meeting the overall water security and energy needs of the country.
  • India ranks third after the US and China in terms of the number of large dams (5,334).
  • Downstream areas are prone to devastating floods due to dams. Dams and safety of dams in India suffer from various problems.

Mullaperiyar Dam

  • This is a 126 year old dam. It is owned, operated and maintained by the Government of Tamil Nadu.
  • It is situated in the upper reaches of the Periyar River. This river flows through Kerala after its origin in Tamil Nadu. The reservoir created by the floods is located within the Periyar Tiger Reserve.

Reasons responsible for the dispute:

  • In the year 1886, the then Maharaja of Travancore signed a lease agreement of 999 years with the British rule. Under this, the right to operate the Mullaperiyar Dam was handed over to Tamil Nadu.
  • Kerala claims that the structure of the dam is weak and it could collapse at any time. Due to this, thousands of people can die in the state. Tamil Nadu, on the other hand, claims that the Mullaperiyar Dam is safe and well managed.

Source – The Hindu

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