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Move to use dead storage in Parambikulam dam

By G. Prabhakaran

PALAKKAD, MARCH 14. Officials of the Water Resources Departments of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu are learnt to be contemplating the idea of using the dead storage (minimum water level to be retained to prevent release of mud into the canal) in the Parambikulam and Siruvani dams as a last resort for providing drinking water in Palakkad and Coimbatore districts.

Only one tmc of live storage is left in the Parambikulam dam now, and Tamil Nadu is supplying it in the Pollachi and Udumalpet areas for drinking purpose.

A high-level team of officials of the Kerala Water Resources Department and the Kerala Water Authority visited the Parambikulam and Aliyar dams on Friday and Saturday to make an on-the-spot assessment of the water availability in these dams. The team consisted of the Secretary of Water Resources Department, Alokshameel, the Chief Engineer of Water Resources Department and convener of Inter-State Water Cell, T.K. Sashi, the Joint Water Regulation Department joint director, Kochappan, the executive engineer of Chitturpuzha irrigation scheme, T.K. Mahanudevan, and the Managing Director of the Kerala Water Authority, Indira. The Bharathapuzha, second largest river in the State which provides drinking water to 110 villages in Palakkad district, has dried up completely, resulting in the abandoning of many drinking water projects.

No water has been released to the Chitturpuzha in Palakkad district from the inter-State Parambikulam-Aliyar Project (PAP) since February 10, resulting in the drying up of paddy in thousands of acres in Chittur taluk. However, the latest effort is not to save the paddy crop but to supply drinking water to Chittur and other areas of Palakkad district which are reeling under an unprecedented drought. Under the PAP agreement, Tamil Nadu should release 7.25 tmc of water from the PAP to the Chitturpuzha a year. But this year, Tamil Nadu has so far released only less than 4 tmc of water. Another one tmc of the previous water year is also pending.

The Kerala Water Resources Department has now suggested the pumping of one tmc of water from the 4 tmc dead storage in the Parambikulam dam. They point out that in 1983 when Tamil Nadu faced a similar situation, it used a portion of the dead storage from the dam for drinking purpose. Official circles say that though nearly 2 tmc of water could be pumped from the 4 tmc dead storage in the dam, it is advisable to use only one tmc now since the animals in the Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary depend on this water for their survival. Moreover, pumping of just one tmc would not affect the safety of the dam.

However, the officials point out that pumping water from the dead storage of Parambikulam is a Herculean task. As many as 50 pumps of 100 HP are needed to pump out one tmc of water in a short period to a 40-km canal to bring it to Chittur. But this has to be done because there is no other alternative, they say.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Tamil Nadu has informed the officials of the Kerala Water Resources Department their desire to use the dead storage from the Siruvani Dam for drinking water supply in Coimbatore town.

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