CUMBUM/CHENNAI: A senior PWD official from Tamil Nadu and his team were on Monday prevented by Kerala Forest officials from visiting the Mullaiperiyar Dam, prompting TN to mull withdrawal from the sub-committee constituted to monitor the safety of the Mullaiperiyar dam.
PWD official Soundram, also a member of the five-member sub-committee, accompanied by special assistant executive engineer Akbar Ali and assistant engineers Rameshwaran and Ramamurthy, were stopped by Thekaddy Forest Ranger Sanjeevan and his team at the jetty, when the PWD officials were about to take a boat to the dam site.
The Forest team demanded their ID cards and written permission to visit the dam, to which the TN officials refused, stating that no such practice existed.
As the Kerala officials were adamant in not letting them proceed, the PWD team returned to their office in Cumbum after waiting at the jetty for nearly an hour.
“For the past one week, they are attempting to prevent our officials from visiting the dam by raising unnecessary issues. They are doing this intentionally to prevent us from carrying out maintenance work,” said Soundram.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu is mulling withdrawal from the sub-committee constituted to monitor the safety of Mullaiperiyar dam, as the harassment of its officials from the PWD and Water Resources Department by the Kerala Forest and Police officials is continuing every other day.
“If this continues, we will have to take strong measures. We are thinking of providing police escorts to our PWD officials and other personnel. Further, if this harassment goes on, Tamil Nadu will withdraw from the sub-committee and not allow any Kerala engineer at the dam,” said official sources. The five member sub-committee is headed by Central Water Commission Kochi division executive engineer Umberji Harish Girish. Its members are Kerala Irrigation Department executive engineer George Daniel and assistant engineer N S Praseed, who represents Kerala. Tamil Nadu is represented by PWD executive engineer Madhavan and assistant executive engineer Soundaram.
On November 17, TN Chief Secretary Mohan Verghese Chunkath lodged a strong protest on behalf of the government against the manhandling of its executive engineer at the dam by the Peermedu MLA and her associates, besides the inaction of the Kerala police in not preventing the incident.
Following this, the TN government filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking directions to deploy Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel at the dam site. On the request of Tamil Nadu, a CISF team visited the dam site on November 25 to assess the security requirements there.
On that day, Kerala Forest personnel prevented officials of the Tamil Nadu Water Resources Department from discharging their day-to-day maintenance work at the dam.
The TN Chief Secretary brought this incident too to the notice of his Kerala counterpart Bharat Bhushan, asking him to issue firm instructions to the Kerala Forest, Police and Water Resources Department officials to cooperate with the Tamil Nadu officials and not to interfere in the routine management of the dam.