Kerala revokes order to allow Tamil Nadu to fell treesDate: 11 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous
A major controversy has arisen between Kerala and Tamil Nadu regarding felling of trees near the baby dam, which is part of Mullaperiyar dam.
Mullaperiyar dam is located in Kerala but is controlled by Tamil Nadu. The controversy about storage height has been disputed since many years.
The Kerala government had previously allowed Tamil Nadu to fell 15 trees but was revoked after fears that such a move would impair the interests of Kerala.
The dam is made up of the main dam, a baby dam, an earthen dam and the spillway. The reservoir level is 152 ft and maximum water level (as per design) is 155 ft.
The Supreme Court directive has asked the authorities to maintain a height of 142 ft due to age of the dam. Kerala has been demanding to reduce the height to 136 ft.
Strengthening baby dam
The baby dam needs to be strengthened if the water level of the reservoir has to be increased to 152 ft from 142 ft. This will make dam safer.
Tamil Nadu has been requesting permission for felling nearby trees so that the dam can be strengthened. This permission has to be given by Kerala.
Controversy of permission
The Chief Conservator of Forests & Chief Wildlife Warden had given permission for cutting trees and strengthening dam.
The opposition criticized the move of granting permission as it would undermine interests of Kerala over dam. The minister of forests withdrew the order.
The minister has accused officials of taking the decision without consulting the Chief Minister and Ministers for Forest and Water Resources.
Kerala government says that there is a need for clearance by the Union Ministry of Environmental and Forests and other statutory bodies as trees are located in Periyar Tiger Reserve.
Opposition from Kerala
The clearing of trees is done to strengthen baby dam. If the dam is strengthened, Kerala’s demand for decommissioning the whole structure would weaken.
Kerala has been demanding building a new dam downstream as it feels existing structure is weak and puts lives of lakhs of people in danger.