Saturday, November 26, 2011
Mullaperiyar- the real lowdown
1. We had been hearing about Mullaperiyar issue for quite some time and nothing has happened to it, despite quite a few tremors in the dam site. Is this just a wave of sensation created by media?
Mullapperiyar dam is weak and vulnerable. This has been confirmed by several expert committees. Each tremor , each flood weakens it further . We are just plain lucky that the dam did not fail till today. Lady luck may not be with us forever. It may fail today, it may fail tomorrow. The risk is real. It is not a hoax.
2. What’s wrong with the dam? Why can’t we fix it?
The dam is very old. Not many dams of its age are in service today. The binding material used for the dam is lime. It has leached with age.
3. But Tamil Nadu did some reinforcement in the recent decades.
The reinforcement work did more harm than good to the dam. This has also been confirmed by the experts . There is a horizontal full length crack on the dam, in addition to hollow insides caused by the concreting work, leached lime, breakages and leaks.
4. Isn’t this dam thing a game of mud sling between ruling party and opposition of the State?
No. All political parties of the state stand united, since it is a question of life of millions. They stood so during the previous Government, they continue to do so during the current Government. This is not a political game, this is real.
5. If it is so, why nothing is happening?
It is a complicated legal and political battle between states. Things are before the apex court and it is not so easy to resolve. One state’s demand cannot work out so easily.
6. Mullaperiyar is not that big a dam. It is just 1200 feet long and 150 feet tall. Even if it fails, it may not cause deaths by millions . Especially, considering its immediate flood area is mostly forests.
The disaster will not be just from the failure of one dam. If Mullapperiyar dam breaches, it will discharge millions of cubic feet of waters downstream and Idukki Arch Dam, will not be able to stand even a small portion of it. This will cause failure of Idukki Dam, which will cause of the worst tragedies Kerala has ever known. It is almost certain that Idukki Dam will fail if Mullapperiyar breaches.
7. What would happen if Idukki Dam fails?
The devastating effect of Idukki Dam failure is just unimaginable. Experts say three districts of Kerala will be totally destroyed. Evacuation of people from these three heavily populated districts sensing a dam breach is just impossible.
8. But what would be the impact? If a dam breaches it will be just a flood, right?
Wrong. Idukki dam can discharge 75000 million cubic feet of water. It weighs 22 Billion tons. Dam breaches do not cause just floods. It can even make a landmass disappear instantly. People may die in millions, forests and habitable landscape may get eroded.
9. But Tamil Nadu needs water for irrigation . They are entitled to it by contracts. Why can’t we provide them an alternative source and resolve the issue?
We have already proposed to build a new dam downstream. TN did not agree to it because it will result in new lease agreement and probably new lease rent. It may be a vote wooing tactic for them, but it is a question of life and death for us.
10. What can we do? Can ask our State to forcefully decommission the dam?
Unfortunately, force doesn’t work. If the state decides to take a step that is contradictory to the federal principle, Center will have to intervene. All we can do it so give maximum aware ness to the people , place pressure on Center to take urgent actions and save lives by millions.
11. Which political party should I stand with? Which organization is going to do it right?
All parties stand united for our lives. Support Kerala state, its current ministers, there is no party politics in this. This is a question of survival, there just cannot be two opinion on this. Be part of any party, any campaign, any movement, any activity for it.