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Mullaperiyar: 450 families evacuated as water level rises to 141ft

IDUKKI: With the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam on Tamil Nadu border touching 141 feet, Kerala has put in place contingency plans for the safety of the people which included evacuation of families from vulnerable areas as at least one shutter of the reservoir could be opened any time.

According to state Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash, the water level rose to 141.2 feet on Saturday as the inflow into the reservoir further increased.

Prakash told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that the government had worked out precautionary measures to meet the situation in case an eventuality arose posing threat to people living in downstream areas of the 117-year-old dam.

The disaster management teams had been geared up and they also imparted training to over 2,000 people in six panchayats on helping government agencies if situation demanded, he said. Also, 92 safe spots had been identified for moving people.

The district administration in Idukki took stock of the situation and decided to move 450 families to safer places tonight as there was a possibility of one shutter of the dam being opened.

Kerala government has been concerned about the situation for the last few days and held that reduction in drawal of water by Tamil Nadu was the reason for current rising in water level.

The two states have been at loggerheads over increasing the water level in the dam, which irrigates five southern districts in Tamil Nadu, from 136 feet to 142 feet with Kerala objecting to it on grounds of safety of the structure. The Supreme Court in May last had allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the level to 142 feet, rejecting Kerala's objections.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had yesterday written to his Tamil Nadu counterpart O Panneerselvam urging his intervention for reduction of water level, which is nearing the contentious 142-feet mark.

The dam is located in Idduki district of Kerala but is under the control of Tamil Nadu. Kerala Finance and Law minister KM Mani deplored Tamil Nadu Government's refusal to positively respond to Kerala's plea for reduction of water level.

Tamil Nadu government should relent from its stand that the shutters of the dam would be opened only if the water level touched 142 feet in view of the insecurity of people living downstream, Mani said in a statement.