An emergency meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority here on Friday decided to increase the surveillance on Mullaperiyar dam as a disaster management measure.

An ultrasonic discharge gauge will be set up downstream of the dam to warn about any changes in the flow of water from the dam. Along with that, an ultra high frequency FM radio would be established at Mullaperiyar to warn the public of any impending disaster. Besides, digital cameras would be set up to monitor the main dam and the baby dam at Mullaperiyar.

Low tension power supply would be provided to the police station at Mullaperiyar towards operation of the equipment. Briefing the media on the decisions of the authority, Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said that Rs.16 lakh had been allocated for purchase of the equipment for disaster management in Idukki district.

In addition, Rs.5 lakh had been sanctioned from Calamity Relief Fund. Control rooms were already functioning at four places in the district. A Deputy Collector would be assigned for overseeing the crisis management in the district.

The Minister said that a decision had also been taken to form a five-member committee at the State headquarters for crisis management. John Mathai, Scientist of Centre for Earth Science; P. Lathika, Chief Engineer, Irrigation Department; Sekhar L. Kuriakose, Hazard Vulnerability Research Agency; Karuppankutty, Chief Engineer, Kerala State Electricity Board; and K.B. Vasalakumari, State Disaster Management Authority; would be its members.

Besides, a State Advisory Committee would be formed with the Principal Secretary (Revenue) as chairperson and Secretary to State Disaster Management Authority as convener.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said the Centre had sanctioned an additional unit of disaster management force with 40 personnel, and it would be stationed in Idukki district. Asked about Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's argument that only four tremors had occurred near the dam, Revenue Minister said that her statement itself was admission that the area was quake prone. The Centre for Earth Sciences here had recorded 26 tremors since July this year.

He said the water level in the Idukki reservoir had been reduced to 59.5 tmcft by increasing generation as per a Cabinet decision. At full reservoir level, Idukki can hold 70.5 tmcft of water. The current storage in the Mullaperiyar reservoir was 11.7 tmcft. This water could be contained in Idukki reservoir at current levels.

Mr. Radhakrishnan parried questions whether Idukki reservoir would not be silted up if Mullaperiyar fails and whether waves of water would not flow over the Idukki, Cheruthoni, and Kulamavu dams despite the lowered water level. He had also no answer when asked whether floating trees and debris carried by rushing waters would not damage dam structure and spillways.

He said that about 45 families would have to be evacuated if the water level rises above six feet downstream of the reservoir. Eight schools had been identified for shifting these families in the case of an emergency. However, water level would be higher in case of failure of Mullaperiyar dam and the water could reach Idukki dam within two hours or more depending on the speed of the flow. The Idukki dam was about 40 km downstream of Mullaperiyar dam.

He said there was no dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over supply of water.

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