Periyar River – Lifeline for Indigenous Settlements

Periyar (meaning “great perennial river”) in Kerala comes from the Sivagiri hills in the Western Ghats. The Periyar River is one of Kerala’s two largest rivers that flows through Periyar National Park and flows into the Arabian Sea. Due to eutrophication, the water of the river has changed colour.

The Periyar River is considered the lifeline of Kerala and with a length of 244 km is the longest river in Kerala. Its main tributaries are the rivers Muthirapuzha, Mullayar, Cheruthoni, Perinjankutti and Edamala. It serves as a source of drinking water for all of the state’s major cities, with the exception of some other perennial rivers.

As a perennial river, it is considered a continuous river that flows through all parts of its riverbed throughout the year. The river flows through Periyar National Park and Lake Periyars, a 5.5 km2 artificial reservoir created by construction of a dam on the river in 1895.

It then moves further northwest through the mountains and westward across the coastal plain. To the west, it meets the Periyar River at Mullakudy, a little north of Lake Periyar.

The Periyar River, which originates in the Western Ghats, flows through the state of Kerala. The Cheruthoni Dam is one of several hydroelectric dams in the region. Tributaries of the river flow through Kerala such as Muthayar, Perunthurairar, Chinnar, Cheruthony and Kattappanyar.

Periyar is Kerala’s longest river

Periyar River rises in the Sivagiri Hills in the Western Ghats and flows through Periyar National Park to reach Periyars Lake. A tunnel leads the water from the lake through the mountains to the Vaigai River in Tamil Nadu across a 31 square kilometre area, where it is used for irrigation. From there, the water flows to Lake Vembanad and the Arabian Sea.

Periyar River Dam View
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Several other dams have been built along the Periyar River since the late 20th century. Lake Periyars is a 55 km2 artificial reservoir created in 1895 through the construction of a dam on the river that flows from the plain of Vembanad to the coast of the Arabian Sea. The lake is surrounded by a nature reserve known for its herds of elephants, tigers and other animals.

With a catchment area of 244 km ², Periyar is Kerala’s longest river. It plays an important role in the life of Kerala and its region as a source of drinking water, which is extracted at a rate of 290 million litres per day and used also for other domestic purposes. It is also the longest river in the state and is known to have the largest discharge potential.

Periyar River
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The dam is intended to divert water from the free-flowing Periyar River to the dry rain-shaded Tamil Nadu region. With a length of 244 km, the river is the longest in the state of Kerala. The water is channelled into the Vagai River Tunnel for irrigation.

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Lifeline for Indigenous Settlements

The main reservoirs in Kerala’s Periyar Basin help divert water from Thodupuzha, a tributary of the MuvattuPuzha River, to the adjacent Sholayar Basin. The Periyars Valley Irrigation Project in Ernakulam District consists of the Periyar Dam at Bhoothathankettu, a catchment area of 3048 square kilometres and a sewer network.

The project consists of drains from the recently completed hydroponics system in the Muthirapuzha tributaries of the Periyan River, controlled discharge from the Ennackal Dam built by the Kerala State Electricity Board and hydroponics at the Idamalayar Tributary, a reliable, uncontrolled streamflow, to irrigate 32,800 hectares of land on the left bank of the Periyan River through a network of sewer systems and monitoring equipment.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the development of an action plan to tackle the wastewater that pollutes the portions of the Alua, Eloor and Kalamassery rivers in Periyar River. The Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) sent notices to companies directing them to install sewage treatment plants and close factories. Periyar River Action Plan was designed by the KSPCB to address the ongoing problem of Kochi city as a dirty source of drinking water.

The validity and fairness of the lease agreement is disputed as to whether or not the river Periyar is classified as an intergovernmental river due to the interlinked control and safety of Mullaperiyar Dam on the river.

Periyar is the longest river in the Indian state of Kerala with a length of 244 km. It is the second longest river in Kerala after the Nile and has been a lifeline for indigenous settlements since early Egyptian civilization. From this point of view, the Periyar Gavi, downstream of the Mullaperiyar Dam, is not a river at all, but rather the origin of Lake Periyar.

The Periyar generates a good amount of electricity, with 6 units of Pelton turbines with a generating capacity of 130 MW (1 MW supplies 650 average homes in Kerala) at the Idukki Dam.

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