Theni/Thiruvananthapuram: The water level in Mullaiperiyar dam touched the contentious 142 foot mark for the first time since the Supreme Court allowed Tamil Nadu to raise it to that level as Kerala continued to voice concern over the safety of people living downstream in that state.
Soundar, PWD engineer in charge of the dam located in Idukki district of Kerala but under the control of Tamil Nadu under a decades-old inter-state agreement, told reporters in Theni that the water level touched 142 feet, with an inflow of 1200 cusecs.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy termed the situation as "serious" and expressed deep anxiety about the safety of people in vulnerable areas.
The Chief Wildlife Warden had been asked to submit a report on the environmental impact due to the increase in water level, which had been inching towards this mark following heavy rains in catchment areas in the past few days.
Chandy said all these matters would be brought before the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal.
Soundar said some Kerala government officials, including Additional Chief Secretary Kurien and Idukki MP Joyce George, visited the dam, accompanied by Kerala Police and returned.
He said the shutters were increased to 142 feet after the Supreme Court ruling that the level be increased to that mark, following a report submitted by a committee constituted by it to assess the dam strength.
The sub-committee was also assessing the dam and was convinced with the strength of the dam, he said.
Kerala has been insisting that the level be maintained at 136 feet while Tamil Nadu want to raise it to 142 feet. Tamil Nadu takes water from the reservoir for irrigation purposes in five districts.
The Supreme Court had earlier this year rejected Kerala's demand for a new dam in place of the 120-year-old reservoir and upheld Tamil Nadu's stand to peg the level up to 142 feet.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu have been pressing the AIADMK government to increase the level, while expressing concern over Kerala knocking at the doors of the apex court again on November 15, seeking to lower the level and divert the surplus to Vaigai dam near Madurai.