Encroachers on the water spread area of Mullaperiyar dam, who have constructed resorts and other buildings, are spreading rumours that the dam will cave in if the water level is raised beyond 136 feet, thus creating panic, Tamil Nadu Public Works Department has said.
The Chief Engineer (Madurai) of Water Resources Organisation, M. Sampath Kumar, in a statement, said that the water spread area of the reservoir was 8,591 acres when the water level was at 155 feet. It was 4,678 acres at 136 feet. Since the dam level had remained at the reduced level of 136 feet for a long time many people had encroached upon the water spread area and constructed resorts and other buildings.
“As these (encroached) areas will be inundated in the event of water level getting raised beyond 136 feet, they are misguiding the people and spreading false information about the dam's safety,” he said.
Mr. Kumar said that the gravity dam constructed between 1886 and 1895 could withstand water pressure, pressure of waves and also tremors. The dam was strengthened between 1980 and 1994 following the advice of the Central Water Commission. All the technical reports had concluded that the dam was strong enough, making it clear that Tamil Nadu had taken up all efforts to maintain the health of the structure.
The Supreme Court in its 2006 order had allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 feet initially and also to take up the remaining works of strengthening the dam.