A team of senior scientists will visit Idukki district of Kerala on Sunday to study the tremors recorded at various places in the early hours of Saturday.
The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) research division at Vazhathoppe said the first tremor of 3.4 magnitude was experienced at 3.14 a.m. on Saturday. The second one, with an intensity of 1 on the Richter Scale, was recorded at 3.20 a.m. Two aftershocks of magnitude 1.7 and 1.4 were recorded at 5.30 a.m. and 5.40 a.m., respectively.
A tremor of 3.4 magnitude was recorded in the district just over a week ago on November 18. Over 20 tremors of mild intensity have rocked the district in the past five months. A senior official of the KSEB research division said 1,284 tremors of mild intensity were recorded since 1970 when monitoring of the tremors was intensified in the district. The tremor with the highest intensity — 3.8 — was recorded in 1976.
Though no major damage was reported owing to the tremors, people living in the downstream of the dam, especially at Karinkulam Chappathu where a relay hunger strike seeking the decommissioning of the dam entered 1,800 days on Saturday, moved out into the open.
Hundreds of people, under the auspices of the Mullaperiyar Agitation Council blocked the Kottayam-Kattappana road at Karinkulam Chappathu seeking protection for their lives in the wake of frequent tremors.
Council chairman C.P. Roy said steps should be taken to reduce the water level in the dam. Leaders should desist from making remarks that affected the cordial relationship between the people of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The road blockade should be seen as a natural reaction of the people living in the affected areas. The political leadership of Kerala should strive to realise a new dam at Mullaperiyar, and the Ministers representing the State in the Union Cabinet should seek a solution to address the apprehensions of the people, if possible, out of court.
Tremors in Kottayam
Staff Reporter writes from Kottayam:
Tremors of slight intensity rocked parts of Kottayam district, bordering Idukki.
Poonjar, Erattupetta, Poonjar Thekkekara, Teekoy, Aukkom, Wagamon, and Kondoor areas in the district felt a tremor around 3.15 a.m.
P.C. George, MLA, said the tremor shook the objects in his room. It was followed by aftershocks at least three times. There were reports from Wagamon of walls of buildings developing cracks. Cracks had also appeared on the walls of St. Sebastian's Church, he said.
The Meteorology centre in Thiruvananthapuram said it recorded a tremor of less than 2.7 magnitude. The epicentre was yet to be ascertained.
The team of scientists who will visit Idukki on Sunday includes Kesava Mohan, director, Institute of Land and Disaster Management (ILDM); John Mathai, senior scientist, Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS); and Sekhar L .Kuriakose, scientist, Hazard Vulnerability Research Agency under the Revenue Department.
Mr. Sekhar told The Hindu that the team would draw up a plan to visit the areas affected by tremors. A clear picture of the effect of the tremors would emerge only after visiting all the places.
The team, along with Revenue Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, visited the Mullaperiyar dam on Sunday last following reports that a tremor on November 18 had resulted in additional seepage of water.
Mr. Sekhar said whether the seepage level had increased could be ascertained only after getting the official files on the previous level of seepage. The official files were with the Tamil Nadu government and they had not been handed over to Kerala. However, he said, preliminary studies by the team could not record a major rise in the seepage level.