Mahatma Gandhi University Vice Chancellor and geologist A.V. George has contested the claims made by Kerala’s member in the High Power Committee on Mullaperiyar, Justice (rtd.) K.T. Thomas on his views on the safety of the dam.
Pointing out that studies by Delhi and Roorkee IITs, the investigation by Indian Navy and the findings through satellite imaging had given a different story, Dr. George, a member of the Committee formed by Kerala on Mullaipeiryar issue, said that every man made structure had a life span and this would be fixed at the outset. “We cannot have timeless constructions,” Dr. George said.
The gravity dam at Mullaiperiyar was constructed 118 years back. “The logic that it would get strengthened day by day, in spite of the washing away of surki, by providing a heavy concrete capping or constructing a concrete backing, would not stand the critical scientific inquiry,” he said.
No geological studies were conducted at the time of construction of Mullaiperiyar dam. Later studies have found that structure has been constructed on one of the most vulnerable spots, where three fault lines on the tectonic plate meet. The studies have also found that the structure was not strong enough to withstand earthquakes of magnitude 5 or more on the Richter scale.
That the State had experienced a quake of magnitude more than 5 on the Richter scale at Erattupetta, not very far from the Dam, recently, is a matter of concern. “The dam survived at that time only because of the fact that the water level in the Mullaiperiyar reservoir was only 115 ft,” he said.
The media was only reflecting the live concerns of the people as they were functioning from the side of the common man and the safety interest of the State. The Mullaiperiyar issue should be discussed also in the light of the acute power shortage faced by the State, he said.
“Kerala had the right to generate power from the water being given to Tamil Nadu,” he said. The State should construct power generation plants on its soil and supply the water only after power generation, he said.
Mr. George also called for discussions in the public sphere about the renewal of the lease agreement. “This cannot be one sided, but should take the concerns of the State in the area of safety, power generation, in the long run,” he said.