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Topic : Mullaperiyar Dam Dispute: Kerala’s New Dam Proposal Rejected

GS-1 Mains  : Geography

Revision Notes


  • Mullaperiyar dam, over a century old, is located in Kerala’s Idukki district but owned and operated by Tamil Nadu.
  • The dam’s safety and management have been a source of contention between the two states for decades.

Kerala’s Proposal

  • Kerala proposed a new dam to replace the ageing Mullaperiyar structure, citing:
    • Recent floods
    • Changes in environmental conditions
    • Need for updated data

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

  • A process to evaluate environmental, social, and economic impacts of a project.
  • Aims to:
    • Predict environmental impacts early in planning.
    • Reduce adverse impacts.
    • Shape projects to suit the local environment.
    • Inform decision-makers.
  • Backed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
  • Involves multiple stages: screening, scoping, data collection, impact prediction, mitigation measures, public hearing, decision-making, monitoring, and risk assessment.
  • Stakeholders include project proponents, environmental consultants, pollution control boards, the public, and the Impact Assessment Agency.
  • Categorized into A (complete EIA process) and B (partial EIA process).

Tamil Nadu’s Opposition

  • Strongly opposes the new dam due to reliance on Mullaperiyar dam water for irrigation.
  • Argues that the existing dam is safe (approved by experts and Supreme Court).
  • Views a new dam as a violation of court orders and potential contempt of court.

Legal Battles

  • The dispute has led to numerous legal battles concerning:
    • Dam safety
    • Water resource jurisdiction
    • Objections to each other’s actions


  • Consensus between Kerala and Tamil Nadu is crucial for any significant development.
  • Kerala needs Tamil Nadu’s consent for a new dam (as per Supreme Court order).
  • Deeply entrenched positions and historical animosity make achieving consensus difficult.

Mullaperiyar Dam Facts

  • Masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River, Idukki, Kerala.
  • Constructed (1887-1895) by John Pennycuick.
  • Located on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats.
  • Operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu (catchment area entirely in Kerala).
  • Reservoir located near Periyar National Park.
  • Seismically active area with potential structural flaws.
  • Potential risk to 3.5 million people in case of dam failure.
  • Water diverted to Forebay Dam for power generation.
  • Dam is a gravity dam made with concrete and faced with rubble.




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