PWD engineers call for “offensive” steps

The Tamil Nadu Public Works Department Senior Engineers' Association has flayed Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, for “washing his hands” of the Periyar dam issue, even as the plan to replace the Kerala Police with Central forces at the dam site was yet to be put in place.

Addressing a seminar on the Periyar dam issue here on Saturday, former Chief Engineer of Tamil Nadu PWD, A. Veerappan, criticised Mr. Chidambaram for making a statement that his ministry had nothing to do in the Periyar dam issue.

“Being a Union Minister from Tamil Nadu is not his duty to question as to what had happened to the security arrangement (suggested by the Intelligence Bureau),” he asked.

The Intelligence Bureau, in its 2006 report, had pointed out the absence of hand-held/door frame metal detectors, trolley mirrors at the security gates of both the dam and the power station and fire-fighting equipment.

The report also suggested removal of all illegal encroachments in the dam area and connect the creeks and checking movement of vehicles on the road adjacent to the reservoir.

Stating that all the “defensive” steps taken by the Tamil Nadu government for three decades had not produced the desired result, he said only “offensive” steps such as seeking legal intervention through courts for removal of all illegal encroachments that had come up in the waterspread area of the Periyar dam over the years, would serve Tamil Nadu's cause.

Mr. Veerappan rubbished the claim of Kerala that 35 lakh people in five districts would be killed in case of the failure of the dam.

The water flow would be 50 feet to 300 feet lower than the habitations and it would not touch Kerala towns and people, he said.

Another former Chief Engineer of Madurai Region, R.V.S. Vijayakumar, flayed Congress leaders for favouring “talks” between the two States to amicably settle the issue.

After bringing down the dam level from 152 feet to 136 feet, Kerala now wanted to demolish the baby dam and maintain the storage at 120 feet, he said.

An engineer, M. Subramanian, said the dam site was safe from earthquakes and that was the reason for setting up the India-based Neutrino Observatory in Theni district close to the dam.

A.M. Abbas, a farmer who went to the Supreme Court, said that the spontaneous expression of anger by the people of Tamil Nadu, especially from Cumbum valley, for 27 days had silenced those who were spreading false rumours about its safety.

Imposition of an economic blockade against Kerala and retrieval of Devikulam and Peermedu were some of the resolutions passed at the meeting.