Lightning damages dome at Mettur dam

SALEM Nov. 9. The concrete `kalasam' atop the dome at the Governor's `view point' at the Mettur dam has developed minor cracks following a lightning strike a fortnight ago.

The Governor's view point is a mandap-like structure constructed on the left flank of the dam. It is strategically located at an elevated point and gives a panoramic view of the dam. Visiting dignitaries or Central team members are invariably taken to this point for them to have a bird's eye view of the waterspread. It is also a scenic spot, mounted on rocks, surrounded by verdant trees.

This place has come to be known as Governor's view point, probably because the then Governor, Stanley (after whom the reservoir has been named), used to visit it. A statue of Ellis, the engineer who designed and constructed the dam, has been installed en route the place.

The superintending engineer of the Upper Cauvery Basin Circle, Laksmikanthan, and the executive engineer of the Mettur PWD, N. Subramanian, inspected the dome today. PWD officials said two lightning arresters had been installed on either side of the dam. As the one on the left flank was at a lesser height than that of the dome, lightning might have struck there.

It had been decided to increase the height of the left flank lightning arrester and carry on repairs to the dome soon.

There was a theory that wherever there was a water column, lightning would not strike there, but it had struck the dome in the vicinity of the lightning arrester.

Lightning had struck the dam at least twice before — on the dam itself in 1947 and in 1999. On both occasions, it left only some scorching marks on the parapet and these places have been marked with paint. The dam might have been constructed with lime, mortar and cement, ground to a paste. The officials said the dam was strong enough and there was no need for any apprehension over its safety.

Water level

Today's level stood at 65.920 ft. and the capacity 29.294 cusecs. The inflow was 9,363 cusecs and there was no discharge from the dam.

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