Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Mullaperiyar Paranoia

The people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been living in an ordeal for the last two or three months. Is It the result of a hype created by the politicians and the media? Or is there any solid foundation for the fear that has gripped the people?
 It seems the immediate cause has been the occurrence, and that too at closer intervals, of minor tremors less than four in the Ritcher Scale, in the Idukki district. Well, this area has been prone to seismic activity for a long time now but there has not been any quake above 4 in the Ritcher scale and seismologists do not predict any strong  earth quake in the vicinity of the dam.  If a strong quake does happen, the Idukki Arch Dam and the other dams of the district would collapse and the damage would  be much more severe than if  the Mulleperiyar one crumbles. Earthquakes are not in the hands of the politicians or rulers but are brought about by the tectonic movement of the plates of earth’s surface and sub-surface dynamics, and hence undue fear about what will happen when the dam bursts is simply a figment of imagination. Let us hope nothing happens  and the dam will stand.   Man has been subjected to natural calamities from time immemorial. Even if the dam fails, only 8tmcft of water will flow down and this can be easily contained by the Idukki Arch Dam which has a capacity of 73tmcft. It is generally less than half full and in the peak season only 75% full. Hence the Mulleperiyar water does not pose any threat on the Idukki dam and the velocity of flow would have come down to safe limits when it reaches the Idukki dam reservoir.  There is no engineering evidence to say that Idukki dam cannot contain the sudden inflow in case of a burst and this was declared by the Kerala Advocate General in the High Court.  But during the peak of the paranoia, there were fears raised about the safety of the people of even the Ernakulam district and that of Kochi itself! There is no limit for human imagination if it is under the grip of paranoia!
To avoid any collapse of the Mulleperiyar dam and to prevent casualties of people downstream up to the Idukki Arch dam, it has be fortified quite thoroughly as being carried out by the Tamil Nadu Government over a few decades since 1986. There are 3 phases of strengthening--emergency, medium and long-term-The first two have been completed successfully.  According to the engineers of the Central Water Commission appointed by the Supreme Court the dam is safe and strong and the level of water could be raised to 142 feet.  In fact Kerala has not allowed the strengthening process to go uninterrupted and does not allow now the same to be carried out to the baby dam and to build the parapet wall on the main dam which is required for the long –term -strengthening measures. If we are really concerned about the safety of the dam and the people around, we should see that the same goes on in a war while we try to build a new dam. It will take more than 5 years; it takes years to get even  the clearances from the environment and other concerned central ministries and agencies. By not allowing the strengthening work, we are making the danger higher if a problem arises due to a quake or any other reason.
Can we say the apex court of the land is not concerned with the welfare and the safety of the people living nearby? Judgements are passed after carefully studying expert opinions.  It irrigates 8000 acres of land in the rain shadow districts of Tamil Nadu -and without the water the people will lose their livelihood, go hungry and die. Is it not a humanitarian issue too like the threat to our people?  
The media and the politicians can make a hype out of any issue and bring it to a crescendo where reason is blinded by emotion and public sentiments. Of what good has the commotion made so far been? A lot of property has been vandalized, thousands have lost their livelihood and few innocent lives lost or maimed apart from the difficulties caused in the movement of people, transportation of essential goods, and inter state visits. The price of essential commodities has been skyrocketing in Kerala and people are put to unnecessary hardships. Who will compensate for all these? Let the concerned government work out a reasonable solution  without emotionalizing the issue. 


  1. Thank you, Sir
    An unbiased article by a professor. Being an engineer I would like to add the following. Buildings in earthquake zone-3 are not generally designed for an earthquake of magnitude more than 6. As for as earthquake effect is concerned, buildings are at high risk than dams. If we say that the dam will fail by an earthquake, we should also consider the buildings.
    - A Malayali Engineer

  2. True...It's all dirty politics


  3. Malayalies and Tamilians should read this article.

    well said

    Thanks, Gopi




    SEE YOU IN THE GAME ALL-VALLEY OF DIRTY POLITICS and unscrupulous, USA to install FEAR TERROR IN PEOPLE TO PROMOTE HIGH AND managed to fool the people in order to win votes and win public office.


  5. Disagree on this article. Just returned from Kerala . The prices of essential goods remain as is. There has been no major increase in price. Regarding the security of building sin the area in case of magnitude 6 earth quick there aren't many high rises in the area and the damages from the collapse of houses will be minuscule compared to the damage from the collapse of the dam.
    I am also not sure of the legality of even the presence of a baby dam.

  6. Respected Sir,if you are not worried about the current situation of Dam and safety of people staying downstream side of the Dam.. Why are you writing bellow statement?

    "It irrigates 8000 acres of land in the rain shadow districts of Tamil Nadu -and without the water the people will lose their livelihood, go hungry and die. Is it not a humanitarian issue too? It may not be easy to ensure the same supply of water with a new dam downstream as the elevation is reduced considerably.

    And also you are saying if this Dam breaks water can occupy by Idukki Dam.. The what about the Villages and people in between..??

    So you are most worried about if the water is not reaching in TN... Shame on you sir... Please stop this nonsense..

  7. Hope you could have verified the facts before running into self founded assumptions and publishing such bogus reports. It's a bigger shame that you are an educated person falling in to the vices and follies spread by the illiterate TN politicians and anti-nationals. Please spend some time to go through the below points and then decide what is truth and who is right.

    [1] At first let me reiterate the FACT that neither the people nor any politicians in Kerala is against giving the waters from Periyar to TN, rather it's our need too, to have food/vegetables to be sourced from TN at a lesser price than we get those from Karnataka/Andhra.

    [2] Regarding the agitations against the MP dam in Kerala, the FACT is that it has never been a political issue or being supported by any political party, until the increasing earthquakes in the recent few years started pouring intense fear among the people living downstream. And to further the situation, there had been more than a dozen tremors (even measuring up to 4.2) in the past few months which aroused panic among the people and unleashed state-wide protests against the inaction of the government, even after knowing that this is an issue of existence of millions of people. Thus it gained much public attention though social networks and media and later few local politicians also came to support the cause. It was only less than 3 weeks since the political parties started supporting the cause, while the public protest and hunger strikes had been going on since more than 1800 days.

    [3] The estimated life of a dam made of lime-surkhi mixture is 50 years and the MP dam, now 116 years is still standing only due to luck (of Both Ker&TN people). If the dam breaks, about 3.5 million people will die in Kerala and 4 districts of Tamilnadu will face drought and famine for ever. Present condition of Mullaperiyar Dam (As per the report of scanning of upstream side of the Mullaperiyar dam using a remote operated vehicle by the Central Soil and Materials Research Station on directions from the Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court in June-2011):

    [4] The agreement made or rather forcefully imposed on us by the British has already expired past independence, and hence the continuation of the same made in 1979 is also invalid. Even if further adjudicated, both the deeds are against the interests of a party involved (Kerala) and would certainly become void, since the former was forcefully imposed and the latter was part of a political bribery between CPI & DMK.

  8. [cont..d]
    [5] Pity on those people trying to twist known geographic facts by spreading sheer nonsense, as your so called FACTS says "Periyar originates in TN". Accept the FACT that Periyar & Mullayar are both originating in Idukki district in the North-Eastern part of Kerala, []. All of us knows that Kerala is in the western slope of Western ghats and TN lies in the eastern side, if this is true it's simple common-sense that the Periyar if originated in TN side would flow directly to TN/Theni/Madurai etc rather than climbing up further to the 8000ft high western ghats to flow through MP dam/Kerala into the Arabian-sea.

    [6] If Kerala ever wanted to stop Mullaperiyar water going to TN, they could have done it much before, without even waiting for the consent of the Central Govt. or Supreme Court or any authority whatsoever, since it's not a herculean task to build a small check-dam above the MP dam (outside the leased area of 8000 acres) in the upstream of dam, somewhere below the origin of the river and divert the water directly to the Idukki dam thereby bypassing MP dam). Thus the MP dam would dry up eventually as the contained water is drained out by TN and the threats to millions of lives also could be avoided. The damn dam is of no use to us other than to provide water for TN.

    [7] Regarding the S/C verdict of 2006, it was entirely based on the CWC report and anyone who goes through the CWC report could clearly understand that they framed a fraudulent report in favour of TN, by reverse calculating the PMF values to arrive at the 152ft water level as demanded by TN and mentioning various measures to strengthen the baby dam, the adverse condition of the main dam almost being ignored. Moreover the CWC team didn't had any experts or technically competent specialists included or referred in this study who were experienced in evaluating the strength or such safety aspects of the dam or they never conducted a dam break analysis. Rather they just conducted a peripheral analysis and wrote down their findings based on the external plastering and painting done by TN, that the dam is being well maintained and safe, despite the fact that it was not built of reinforced cement concrete or any such durable material, but only using an outdated lime-surkhi masonry whose life expectancy is merely 50 years as defined by engineering experts.

    Here you can find some recent and rare photographs from the MP dam which media/channels in TN would never have shown to you. This is not animation or graphics, but real photographs unlike those shown in the demonstrations you have seen on Tamil medias, which undoubtedly proves that the dam is on the brim of breakage.

  9. Sir,
    In support to what Ashok Kumar mentioned above I would like to add a few more things . A few days back the Supreme Court appointed committee members tried to get the surki mixture content from the dam to analyze the strength of the dam and in spite of creating bore hole in the dam to the depth of 40 ft they still could get only broken surki mixture where as they were expecting to get unbroken mixture of surki in the shape of the bore hole itself i.e the shape cylindrical pipe which is a clear evidence as per experts that the dam is not strong enough like what TN has been saying all these years. Moreover sir if you are interested please read this news too which was in THE HINDU newspapaper . "T. Shivaji Rao, Director, Centre for Environmental Studies, GITAM University, Visakhapatnam, has sent a memorandum to Tamil Nadu Governor K. Rosaiah calling for action to prevent a man-made catastrophe from impending collapse of the Mullaperiyar dam." Sir, it would be greatly appreciated if educated people like you understand the facts clearly about sensitive issues like this before putting your thoughts like these and misleading people. If you are really sincere about this issue please visit the site in person and understand the ground reality before you write non sense blogs like these in the comfort of your house or office.

  10. Ashok Kumar seems to be posting a standard reply he or someone else has made for countering the Tamil Nadu stand. He is not replying to my points which is balanced and studied.
    1. The possibility of high earthquake is not predicted by seismologists. And if one happens the Idukki arch dam is more at danger.
    2. We have to fortify the Mulleperiyar dam and make it safe to save people downstream while we try to build a new dam.
    3. Arousing public sentiments will only help to blind reason and for nothing else. People can be easily led in any direction. See the damages to people and property and price! The governments have to sort out the issue without making people emotional or antagonistic.
    4. The Supreme court of the land takes every aspect before giving a judgement.
    5. I never even mention the origins of Periyar or raise it as a contentious issue.
    Please, Ashok Kumar, sir, be more specific and answer to the point