Mullaperiyar Special Cell chairman M.K. Parameswaran Nair has said Saturday's inspection of the dam, carried out by the members of the Supreme Court-appointed Empowered Committee (EC), is disappointing to Kerala.
He was talking to mediapersons on returning to the boat landing station at Thekkady, near here, after accompanying EC members C.D. Thatte and D.K. Mehta to the dam. The EC members declined to talk to the media.
Mr. Nair said Mr. Thatte's stand, read with the recent statement of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, raised doubts whether the report of the EC would be in Kerala's favour. The difference of opinion between Kerala officials and Mr. Thatte began over the issue of the sonic test conducted at the dam. Kerala argued that sonic testing was conducted only in one block, while engineers from Tamil Nadu said it was done in three blocks. Mr. Thatte chose to accept the Tamil Nadu laim, Mr. Nair said.
“We showed a map to prove our claim,” Mr. Nair said. The officials representing Kerala pointed out that isotope testing was done only in one hole and that too without inviting its representatives, he said. He pointed out that he had already written to Mr. Thatte requesting that the test be done in at least five holes. To this, Mr. Thatte said the letters would be examined.
Then at one point Mr. Thatte cut short Irrigation Chief Engineer P. Lathika and asked her to keep quiet when she tried to make a point, Mr. Nair said. That caused the Kerala team great pain as it was the chief engineer of a State he slighted. As its official was not allowed to speak, the team felt there was no point in further taking part in the visit. “But since the EC members were our guests, we continued to accompany them everywhere and returned with them after the visit,” Mr. Nair said.
He said Mr. Thatte wanted all measures under dam safety guidelines taken in a time-bound manner. He gave instructions in public, including removal of trees along the earth dam and protection of its slopes, rubber pitching along the upstream phase, relaying wearing coat on top of the Baby dam, undertaking a study on the possibility of an extra outlet in Mullaperiyar, creation of blocks at the level of 155 feet around the reservoir, marking of spillways in bold, and making the road between Vallakkadavu and the dam motorable at the earliest, Mr. Nair said.
It was directed that objections, if any, be reported to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and the Chief Secretary, and the EC should be informed of who had raised the objections, he said.
“We brought to the notice of Mr. Thatte that an order of a Division Bench of the Supreme Court, dated November 2010, had asked for maintaining status quo at Mullaperiyar. However, Mr. Thatte stuck to his position,” Mr. Nair said.
Earlier in the day, the EC members, accompanied by officials from both States, left for the inspection of the dam around 9.45 a.m.
The EC members were not happy about the presence of a large media contingent at the boat landing station and directed the police to remove it.