The Cabinet will be discussing the renewed urgency in ensuring the safety of people living below the Mullaperiyar dam in view of recurring tremours in Idukki district.
An official team headed by Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan had visited the district and the dam last week end. The Cabinet will consider its report. Besides, Minister for Water Resources P. J. Joseph is convening a meeting of officials on Wednesday to decide on future course of action.
The recurring tremours near to Mullaperiyar dam have raised much concern as that could lead to a failure of the dam. One of the tremours that occurred last Friday measured 3.4 on the Richter scale. The epicentre of the tremour was 32 km away from the dam. What worries the experts is that there is a fault as close as 16 km to the dam.
A study done by Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkie, showed that an earthquake of the magnitude of 6 on the Richter scale in the vicinity of the dam can wreck the dam. There is likelihood of such earthquakes occurring near the dam with fault lines lying only kilometres away the dam. In 2000, earth quakes measuring 5 and 4.8 on the Richter scale had occurred at Erattupetta, not far from Mullaperiyar.
Besides, studies have shown that the probable maximum flood that can occur at the Mullaperiyar basin is higher than originally anticipated. If that happens, the dam would overflow at a height of about 160.2 metres for 11 hours. This means that a column of water 5.2 metres high would flow over the 155-feet high dam for a long time which could result in slippage or overturning of blocks of dam. To add to the worries, rainfall that could bring about that kind of a flow had occurred recently in Kannur district. Its repetition in the Mullaperiyar basin is a distinct possibility.