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Heavy flow hampers restoration work at Upper Anicut

Taking stock:Ministers inspecting the damaged regulator at Mukkombu in Tiruchi district on Wednesday.M. Srinath

Heavy flow of water through the damaged portion of a regulator and the formation of sand shoals on the upper reaches at Upper Anicut has complicated restoration work across the Coleroon.

The Water Resources Department of Public Works Department had begun the erection of a ring bund using sand bags last Thursday to arrest the flow of water into the Coleroon through the damaged portion of the regulator. It has employed about 800 workers, besides deploying floating excavators. Motorised boats have been pressed into service for ferrying materials.

A massive ring bund is being erected for about 260 meters from the right bank to the 19th pier across the Coleroon. It would be a curved formation for about 126 meters along the washed away portion, about 25 meters upstream of the regulator.

According to a senior official, until Wednesday the bund was formed for a length of about 50 meters from both ends. However, work on formation of bund across the washed away portion, considered crucial, is yet to begin, mainly due to heavy flow of water and strong current.

A senior official told The Hindu that despite efforts to divert water in the Cauvery, such as expediting restoration work, they could not control the flow of water in the Coleroon due to the natural water course. The accumulation of sand on the upper side of the Mukkombu barrage across the Cauvery had slowed down the flow in the river. Consequently, more water is flowing towards the Coleroon river.

Of 20,000 cusecs of water released from Mettur Dam was realised at Mukkombu on Wednesday evening. Of this, 8,000 cusecs was flowing in the Cauvery and the rest was flowing into the Coleroon without any control, making the task of building the ring bund difficult. Two men of Fire and Rescue Service had a narrow escape when the rubber boat on which they were travelling capsized due to water current at the site. They managed to hold on to a boulder. After some tense moments and difficult operation, they were rescued by their colleagues and workers.

“The water current is very strong at the work site and it is a challenging task to execute the restoration work. But, we are right on target as we have mobilised sufficient men and machine. We will make headway once the water flow comes down below 10,000 cusecs,” said an official. On Wednesday evening, the discharge from Mettur Dam had come down to 6,000 cusecs and hence the flow is expected to come down here too by Thursday.

The PWD has also deployed a team a divers from Thoothukudi for carrying out visual checks of the regulator’s foundation underwater and see whether any cracks could be noticed.

To assess the progress of works, PWD Secretary S.K. Prabhakar visited Mukkombu for the third time on Wednesday after the collapse of the regulator. Accompanied by Collector K. Rajamani he inspected the site travelling on a motorised boat. He also held lengthy discussions with senior officials.

Tourism Minister Vellamandi N. Natarajan, who inspected the progress of restoration work along with Backward Class Minister S. Valarmathi and Tiruchi Member of Parliament P. Kumar, said that situation was being closely monitored. The work would gain momentum once the water flow came down.


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