Police station planned for India’s 106-year-old Mullaiperiyar Dam

Mullaiperiyar Dam, a masonry gravity dam completed around 1886 on the Periyar River in Kerala, India, could soon be home to a 20-person police station, according to the state government of Kerala.

It appears concerns with regard to the safety of the dam’s infrastructure and disputes about water sharing between Tamil Nadu and Kerala have prompted Kerala to place a police presence on the site.

The dam and its catchment are located in Kerala on the southern coast of India at the Arabian Sea. But Tamil Nadu, a much larger neighboring state east of Kerala, operates and maintains the facility. However, Kerala determines water sharing from the dam’s catchment.

Kerala wants to decommission the dam that it says has developed leaks and build a new dam further downstream that Kerala would control. However, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, said, India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests cancelled the clearance it issued for an environmental impact assessment study for a new dam downstream.

Local reports indicate Tamil Nadu is demanding Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel be deployed at the site for security — CISF personnel are not local police. CISF is an armed force of the Union of India. Its current personnel strength is about 165,000 and CISF is the largest industrial security force in the world.

Published reports indicate Kerala’s objective is to counter Tamil Nadu’s petition in the Supreme Court of India seeking deployment of CISF personnel at the facility. If the police station is put in place, when Kerala appears before the court later this year, officials will be able testify they have addressed physical security threats to Mullaiperiyar Dam.

The main dam, forebay dam and all of the nearby forest area will come under the purview of the new station, said local officials in published reports.

In July 2015, Kerala announced its decision to set up the police station.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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