Mullaperiyar: The Mullaperiyar dam on the Periyar river is over hundred years old and it’s leaking—a breach which preys on the minds of people living downstream.
Usha and her family have lived on the banks of Periyar in Upputhara village all their life, but the river is giving them sleepless nights now. The family fears the dam could give in any moment.
"We are living in fear. It has become difficult to sleep at night. Who knows when this dam might burst? My daughter is scared to go to school. I have to convince her nothing will happen," says Usha.
The Kerala government has announced its decision to build a new dam downstream, but people here have little hope. The reason: Tamil Nadu which gets water from the old dam, is against any such move. People in the region are now staging protests seeking a new dam.
"The dam will collapse anytime; it’s too weak. So if we are not constructing a new dam it will collapse and 40 lakh people's lives and property will be lost. That's why we are fighting for this cause for the last two years," says Father Joy Nirappil, chief patron of the Mulaperiyar Samara Samithi.
If the dam breaks, the 1,000 houses in Upputhara will be the first to washed away. The village’s people say its now entirely up to the Tamil Nadu government to decide when to repair the dam and their lives.