PWD attributes the trend to protest from Kerala officials

The Tamil Nadu Public Works Department cannot even carry out minor maintenance works in the gallery area of the Mullaperiyar dam because of protests from Kerala irrigation officials on Thursday.

Kerala officials ‘ordered’ the Tamil Nadu officials to stop work immediately and wait for their advice, according to sources in the PWD.

The PWD engineers had finalised a tender to fix tiles on the floor of gallery of the Periyar dam at an estimated cost of Rs. 4 lakh. Construction materials were also transported to the dam site through Vallakadavu in Idukki district. When they began the work on Wednesday, the Kerala police did not allow them to proceed stating that they did not get any information from the Irrigation Department in this connection. The matter was brought to the notice of State-level officers, an official said.

After the State-level talks, a special team led by Mullaperiyar Special Cell Chairman Parameswaran Nair and Tamil Nadu team led by PWD Chief Engineer Thamizharasan inspected the spot on Thursday.

The Tamil Nadu team explained that it was just a maintenance work in the gallery. Prior intimation was given and permission obtained from the Kerala Forest Department to mobilise materials.

The floor of gallery was damaged owing to seepage of water from the dam. The officials at the dam site had to inspect the area periodically to check seepage level through ‘V’ measurement. But, the Kerala team described it as ‘strengthening work’ and refused permission.

The Tamil Nadu officials insisted that it was nothing but maintenance work.

This work could be done only during summer as there would be less storage in the dam and the less seepage. But, Kerala officials curtly told the workers to stop tile-laying work. “We will discuss the issue with our [Kerala] government and let you know, they said and advised Tamil Nadu workers not to go ahead with the work,” the sources said.

The PWD officials here informed that it was the only work in the dam site and they had no other work to do.

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