Kerala floods man-made? Opposition puts CM Pinarayi Vijayan in dock as Left blames Tamil Nadu for deluge

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New Delhi | Updated: August 25, 2018 1:03:40 PM

Kerala floods: A blame-game has erupted between Tamil Nadu and Kerala over devastating flood in almost all 14 districts of the latter state that have caused massive loss of human life and property.

Kerala flood, Periyar river, Idukki dam, Mullaperiyar dam, Pinarayi Vijayan, Tamil NaduKerala floods man-made? Opposition puts CM Pinarayi Vijayan in dock as Left blames Tamil Nadu for deluge

A blame-game has erupted between Tamil Nadu and Kerala over devastating flood in almost all 14 districts of the latter state that have caused massive loss of human life and property. While Left-ruled Kerala has been blaming the sudden release of excess water from Mullaperiyar dam by Tamil Nadu for the massive flood, the AIADMK-ruled state has stated that the neighbouring state was giving ‘wrong information’ about the release of water from the dam.
The Mullaperiyar dam on Periyar river is situated in Kerala in the upper reaches of the Western Ghats above Idukki dam. But, it is operated by the Tamil Nadu government.

According to Tamil Nadu government, the Kerala government’s claim that sudden release from the dam was the reason behind the flood, is wrong. It submitted in the Supreme Court on Friday that the release of water from the dam was ‘very little’ compared to the water released from Idukki dam and other large numbers of dams in Kerala due to unprecedented rains. The Tamil Nadu government filed its affidavit in response to Kerala government’s affidavit which stated that the sudden release of water from the Mullaperiyar dam by the Tamil Nadu government was one of the reasons for the flood.

After listening to both the versions, the Supreme Court on Friday said that it will not treat the matter as a dispute between the two states and agreed with the Disaster Management sub-committee that the water level at Mullaperiyar dam is maintained at 139.99 feet till August 31. On August 23, the Centre had submitted that the sub-committee had met and directed the Tamil Nadu government to ensure water level in the Mullaperiyar dam is maintained at 139.99 ft against the permissible limit of 142 feet till August 31. According to Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, both Kerala and Tamil Nadu were informed of the decision to maintain the water level in the dam.

The Supreme Court asked both the states to cooperate and follow the directions of the sub-committee on Mullaperiyar dam.

In this Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, file photo, two men row a boat through a flooded paddy field next to an inundated structure in Alappuzha in the southern state of Kerala, India. Kerala has been battered by torrential downpours since Aug. 8, with floods and landslides. About 800,000 people now living in some 4,000 relief camps. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi, File)

The Tamil Nadu government on its part has been saying that the dam was hydrologically and structurally safe for maximum water level condition of 155 feet. According to it, the contribution from Mullaperiyar dam was significantly less and that flood in Kerala was triggered due to the release of water from its own dams. Besides, it also contended that the lower Periyar basin, apart from receiving the surplus waters from Idukki dam, receives surplus from Idamalayar Reservoir, Bhuthathankettu Reservoir and others.

The Supreme Court’s order came amidst the war of words with Congress-led UDF opposition and BJP blaming the Vijayan government for a ‘man-made disaster’. The parties have been saying that the CM can’t shift blame on others for the disaster and asked him to take responsibility for the crisis. The leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala has demanded a judicial probe into circumstances that led to an opening of around 40 dams at a time in the state. He alleged that there was an increase of around 41 % rainfall and that the situation worsened not because of the downpour, but “due to the opening of dams at a time without giving prior warning”.

“It was a man-made disaster,” Chennithala said.

Men paddle their boat through the lawns of a partially submerged church at Kuttanad in Alleppey district in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 24, 2018. REUTERS/Sivaram V

BJP leader PS Sreedharan Pillai has also blamed Vijayan government for the grim situation. “There was lack of foresight on part of the state,” the leader said.

Meanwhile, according to the Kerala government data, rains and floods in the state have so far claimed 417 lives and 36 people are still missing. CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday told reporters a total of 8.69 lakh people were still sheltered in 2,787 relief centres across the state. He said some 7,000 houses were destroyed in the floods and another 50,000 partially damaged. The floods have caused damages to the tune of 19,500 crore.

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