Inspection in the wake of recent tremors in the region
Allaying the apprehensions of the people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the two technical experts of the Supreme Court appointed-Empowered Committee (EC) on Tuesday informed the Committee that the recent tremors in that region did not have any impact on the Mullaperiyar and Idukki dams and that the dams were safe.
The two members — the former Secretary to the Union Ministry of Water Resources, C.D. Thatte, and retired Chief Engineer, Central Water Commission, D.K. Mehta — had inspected all the dams in and around the Mullaperiyar catchment area to ascertain their safety in the wake of the recent earthquakes.
The inspection came after Kerala filed an application seeking to bring on record the recent earthquakes and pleading for an oral hearing. The Committee had asked two of its members to conduct an on-the-spot inspection and submit a report.
The report was submitted to the EC's head, the former Chief Justice of India, A.S. Anand. The other members on the Committee are retired Supreme Court Judges K.T. Thomas (representing Kerala) and A.R. Lakshmanan (representing Tamil Nadu).
At Tuesday's meeting, the EC considered the report and the objections raised by Kerala during the inspection of the dam. The report concluded that the tremors did not have any impact on the Mullaperiyar dam and there was no danger to its safety.
The Committee took serious exception to the objection raised by Kerala that the views of the two members could not be construed as the views of the EC. It was pointed out that the EC had passed a resolution at an earlier meeting authorising the two technical members to carry out the inspection. The procedure adopted by the members could not be faulted by the Kerala government, it said.
The EC also considered the reports, studies and investigations conducted by various agencies constituted by it to go into the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam. Informed sources told The Hindu that all except one agency submitted their reports and they were discussed at the meeting.
The various tests and studies undertaken by the Committee are: scanning the up-steam face of the dam using remote-operated vehicle and digital camera by the Central Soil and Materials Research Station (CSMRS), Delhi; non-destructive test by the Central Water and Power Research Station (CWPRS), Pune; cable anchor stress test; study by the Geological Survey of India; bathymetric survey by the CWPRS; material testing by the CSMRS and the CWPRS; seepage study by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC); flood study by the Central Water Commission (CWC); testing of the cores by the CWPRS/ CSMRS; in situ tests and stability check, both by the CWPRS; and checking of measuring instruments used in the dam.
The panel will meet again on January 24 and 25 to consider the modalities of finalising its report to be submitted to the Supreme Court, as its term ends in February.
The panel once again rejected Kerala's request for copies of reports of various agencies, stating that such a request had already been rejected.