Dams in distress as Safety Authority goes headless
By Chandrakanth Viswanath / ENS - KOCHI
11th August 2012 11:31 AM
Even in the face of mounting tension over the safety of dams after the heavy rains, the state government continues a lackadaisical approach with regard to the matter.
The Kerala Dam Safety Authority (KDSA), the exclusive authority for ensuring the safety of dams, has been remaining headless for the past three months and the National Register of Large Dams (NRLD) has put four dams, located in the state, under Tamil Nadu’s list of dams.
Periyar (Mullaperiyar), Parambikulam, Thoonakadav and Peruvaripallam dams, which are clearly within the state’s territory are shown within Tamil Nadu’s borders in the National Register of Large Dams, 2009. However, Periyar, the first in the list of the 120 dams under Tamil Nadu has a clarification that “though the dam is located in Kerala, it is being controlled by Tamil Nadu”. These four dams do not figure in the list of 52 dams in Kerala. The NRLD says the data was updated on February 2, 2012, as supplied by the respective states.
“This would further weaken Kerala’s case in the future and would be an advantage to Tamil Nadu. This cannot be seen as a mistake as there is no dam in the neighbouring state’s border mentioned in Kerala’s list,” said former Minister P C Thomas who has filed a case in the Kerala High Court demanding corrective steps. In 2006, the state had formed the KSDA, the first of its kind in the country, for providing advice on protection, monitoring and repair of dams in the state with Justice G Sasidharan as the first chairman.
It enacted the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006, to ensure safety of all ‘endangered’ dams in the state, listed in the second schedule of the Act.
The 13 members of the KSDA include Principal Secretary of Water Resources Department, chief engineers of the Irrigation and Administration Designs Department,
Inter-state Rivers Department, the KSEB (Civil) Wing, chairman of the State Pollution Control Board, Principal Chief-Conservator of Forests, director of Centre for Earth Science Studies and three eminent subject experts, two from Water Resources Department and one from Geology Department.
The KSDA is empowered to recommend the government to increase or decrease the water level in dams to ensure the state’s safety.
It also checks the safety of the dams from time to time. However, the government is yet to find a replacement to Justice Rajendra Babu, the last chairman of KSDA, who stepped out in May.
“It is an effective authority for providing precautionary measures. I remember the directions it had made after visiting Chimminy dam,” said N K Premachandran, who handled the
Irrigation portfolio during the term of the last LDF government.
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