CUMBUM: On a day when the Supreme Court trashed the petition of Kerala government over storing water up to 142 feet in Mullaiperiyar Dam, the forest officials at Thekkady too relented on Wednesday and allowed the National Security Guards team to inspect the security arrangements at the century-old water body along with the Tamil Nadu Public Works Department officials.
However, the officials of the Tamil Nadu PWD were asked to sign in Kerala forest department’s register before heading to the dam.
“To avoid further embarrassment to the NSG team, we signed in the register of the forest department. The members reviewed the security arrangements at the dam,” said a senior PWD official and quickly added that the PWD officials would not budge to the demand of the Kerala forest officials hereafter. The four-member team of NSG, including chief commandant Mohan, senior commandants, Vijay and Raghunathan, along Tamil Nadu PWD senior officials like Mullaiperiyar dam assistant Executive Engineer A Soundaram, sub-divisional officer Akbar Ali and engineer Ramamuthy, were stopped at the jetty around 11 am by Thekkady forest ranger Sanjeevan and his team and asked to sign the register. Heeding their instruction, the assistant executive engineer Soundaram then signed in the register.
Subsequently, the NSG team conducted a two-hour inspection of the security arrangement at the dam site. “The main focus of the NSG team was to find out if there was any possibility for a terror attack on the 152-foot structure. As part of their mission, the team also checked all the routes to find out if saboteurs can make their way to the dam,” said a PWD official.
In 2012, when the NSG team visited the dam, the level in the dam stood only at 136 feet. Pointing out that this was the NSG team’s first visit after the storage was raised to 142 feet following the apex court order, sources claimed, “This time they are making a fresh assessment of the security arrangements at the dam.”
Meanwhile the farmers from Theni district, led by Mullaiperiyar Dam Retrieval Committee Chairman Ranjith Kumar, staged a protest at Pennycuick memorial condemning the Kerala officials for repeatedly preventing the PWD officials from visiting the dam.