Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has expressed shock over the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)'s action of forming a team of experts to formulate a contingency response plan for the Mullaperiyar dam and the downstream areas.
Describing the move as nothing but “succumbing to the subterfuge” of the Kerala government, the Chief Minister, in her letter sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, said the action was to present a fait accompli to the Supreme Court and the Empowered Committee constituted by it. The team would prepare the plan to develop “inundation and submergence models” for possible scenarios such as earthquakes or floods and combination of both.
Demanding withdrawal of the NDMA's office memorandum, Ms. Jayalalithaa said as the matter was pending in the Supreme Court and the Empowered Committee was looking into various aspects, including the dam's safety, the formation of the team “was not warranted at this stage.” She recalled that in its order in February 2006, the Supreme Court stated that the dam was safe. It permitted Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 ft initially. The Empowered Committee, which had conducted various tests, was also in the process of holding other tests. It was expected to submit its report to the court by February 2012. That being the case, the government of Kerala, to circumvent the legal process, had approached the NDMA to form a contingency response plan in case of a disaster, which was a figment of imagination, she said.
“The objective of the government of Kerala appears to be a calculated attempt to pressure the Empowered Committee to declare the dam unsafe.”
D.K. Paul, professor of the Earthquake Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology – Roorkee, was proposed as a witness by the Kerala government in the pending suit. The court had not taken cognisance of Kerala's plea to include him as a witness. Now, the NDMA had included him to represent the Earthquake Engineering Department in the team of experts. “There is every possibility that his untested views will influence the team of experts of NDMA.”