The Kerala Irrigation Engineers Association has urged Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph not to deploy engineers from the Irrigation Design and Research Board (IDRB) for implementing the Kuttanad package under the Flood Management Programme and identify personnel instead from field offices.

In a memorandum submitted to the Minister recently, G.Anil Kumar, president, and Maju Balakrishnan, secretary, pointed out that the IDRB was the only institution which undertook planning and design of irrigation structures for the Irrigation Department on its own without any outsourcing for over 40 years, though under different names.

They feared that if a proposal to deploy a joint director, three deputy directors, and eight assistant directors was implemented, it would affect the functioning of the IDRB.

They described the Minister's response to their memorandum as favourable.

They contended that the good work done by the IDRB was not getting much exposure.

The IDRB was the target when deployment to the Local Self-Government Department was considered a few years ago.

Even though it was averted to an extent because of the association's timely intervention, the IDRB had to lose a post of joint director to the LSGD in that exercise.

The association brought some of the major assignments undertaken by the IDRB to the Minister's attention. They included a detailed project report of the Kuttanad package, project report of the Dam Rehabilitation Project (DRIP), Chamravattam project, design of check dams under the Meenachil River Valley Project, design of works under the Malabar package, works under the National Hydrology Project, preparation of the Integrated River Basin Master Plan for four rivers, and inter-State issues relating to the Mullaperiyar, Parambikulam-Aliyar agreement, Pampa- Achenkoil- Vaipar Project, Neyyar water sharing, and Cauvery water dispute.

They informed the Minister that it was the IDRB which prepared the detailed project report and design of the new Mullaperiyar dam. The proposal to deploy key posts from it had come at a time when the IDRB had to be strengthened to handle the work connected with the final and execution stages of the new Mullaperiyar dam.

They said outsourcing even part of the work done by the IDRB now could prove to be a costly exercise for the Irrigation Department. It was not wise to outsource work on sensitive projects like the new Mullaperiyar dam and work related to inter-State river waters as it could jeopardise the interests of the State.

If the IDRB was strengthened, its services could be made available for handling the irrigation-related work of the other departments, which could increase the revenue of the department.

A proposal was under preparation for the purpose. They urged the Minister to take immediate steps to revamp the IDRB.