The State Public Works Department engineers and experts resumed work to strengthen Periyar dam in Thekkadi near here on Friday.

Experts from the Central Water Commission started cleaning seepage outlets in the dam in the presence of Supreme Court constituted special panel comprising public works and irrigation engineers from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Of the total 97 outlets meant for proper seepage of water to maintain pressure in the dam, 41 had already been cleaned in the first phase in October and November. The remaining 56 outlets would be cleaned in this phase, said CWC experts.

“The cleaning work will continue for 10 days.” Liquid chemicals would be pumped at high pressure through the outlets to remove salt deposits.

In the earlier phase, old equipment was used to clean the holes. When it did not serve the purpose fully, the technical team brought new equipment from New Delhi for the current phase of strengthening.

Preliminary work, including commissioning of new equipment, was completed on Thursday.

The Tamil Nadu PWD officials said that cleaning of the dam should be done once in five years in order to keep it in good condition. But they could not clean the Periyar dam since 2002 owing to various factors.

Vociferous protests by Kerala Irrigation officials had prevented Tamil Nadu engineers from undertaking even minor maintenance work in the dam for a long time.

The Supreme Court had issued orders last year granting permission to undertake all maintenance works immediately in the presence of Kerala officials.

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