Kerala failed to convince SC of concerns on Mullaperiyar dam: Experts


Sankar CG

Kerala is not prone to have major earthquakes. There is actually no need for a concern that the dam would collapse due to an earthquake. Such a dam collapse, due to an earthquake, has not been reported anywhere in the world so far

Mullaperiyar dam | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Ernakulam: Amid the continuing concerns on the stability of the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar dam, renowned Kerala geo-scientists CP Rajendran and Kusala Rajendran have come up criticising the lackadaisical attitude of the state government in conducting a proper scientific study with the backing of advanced equipment to convince the apex court of the safety concerns regarding the dam.

'There are a whole lot of devices available to check the strength of the dam. The issues associated with the dam have been a hot topic for over twenty years now. Throughout this period, the government demanded decommissioning the dam on the point that the dam is old. Even a child knows that the dam is very old and of course all structures go weak over passing years. All the panels that studied the strength of the dam lacked experts and the studies were based on numerical models. The result may vary if someone else holds a study as the inputs can be different. In fact, we lack basic data,' said CP Rajendran.

He also said for the last 20 years, the state government has been saying that the dam is weak based on assumptions. 'The government failed completely in convincing the court of the points it raised. At least now, the concerned authorities should open their eyes and be willing to install the devices to prove that the dam is structurally weak. A court does not go by assumption. It needs data to reach a conclusion. The government must be able to submit the required data,' he added.

In the meantime, there were reports that the area, where the dam is situated, is vulnerable to earthquakes. 'Has the state government installed seismographs there to study the possibility of earthquakes in the area? No. When there is a suspicion, a responsible government will examine the problem through proper studies. Such an attitude was not there on the part of the state government,' said Kusala Rajendran.

However, she opined that chances are scanty to have powerful earthquakes in South India, including Kerala. 'Feeble earthquakes of magnitude below six would not damage structures which have average strength. The most powerful earthquake reported in Kerala was of magnitude 5.1 in Pala in 2001. Kerala is not prone to have major earthquakes. There is actually no need for a concern that the dam would collapse due to an earthquake. Such a dam collapse, due to an earthquake, has not been reported anywhere in the world so far,' said Kusala.

Kusala highlighted the need to take stock of the silt deposited at the bottom of the dam. 'Due to widespread constructions in hilly areas, soil erosion occurs at a massive rate. This leads to silt deposition in dams. The water level of the dam reaching135 feet, 142 feet and all might not be true. Silt must have been deposited massively at the bottom of the dam. Being a responsible government, the state should seek the support of experts to approach the issue wisely,' added Kusala.

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