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PWD racing against time to reinforce bund across Kollidam regulator

A temporary bund built around the damaged portion of the regulator across the Kollidam at Mukkombu near Tiruchi.

With the Stanley Reservoir at Mettur set to be opened for irrigation on Tuesday, the Public Works department (PWD) has expedited work on strengthening the temporary bund around the damaged portion of the old regulator across the Kollidam at Mukkombu near Tiruchi.

The regulator collapsed on August 22 last year.

Although senior officials do not anticipate any problem in managing the water flow in Cauvery at Mukkombu, from where the Kollidam originates, the department has given a push to complete the temporary restoration works quickly so as to avert any problem if there were to be heavy discharge from Mettur dam.

With the Mettur dam getting copious inflow of more than two lakh cusecs from Karnataka, the State government has decided to swiftly release water from the dam so that there is no sudden gush of heavy flow in the Cauvery. Some of the farmers organisations, citing the ongoing work at Mukkombu, have been calling for staggered release of water. Completion of the temporary restoration works is essential to manage the water flow in the Cauvery once the Mettur dam is opened for irrigation, they contended.

The PWD built a temporary bund around nine of the 45 shutters of the regulator that collapsed last year. Initially, the ring bund was built using sand bags, boulders and wooden logs to block the flow of water through the damaged shutters and regulate release of water for irrigation in the delta in the adjoining Cauvery last year.

Subsequently, the State government sanctioned ₹38.85 crore to reinforce the temporary bund using steel sheet piles backed by sand and concrete.

A senior PWD official told The Hindu on Monday that they planned to complete the work by August 17 “even though they do not anticipate any problem,” in managing a normal irrigation season.

PWD authorities here expect an initial discharge of about 20,000 cusecs, to start with, from Mettur Dam on Tuesday and it is most likely to be increased to about 50,000 cusecs later. The discharge will be stepped up further if the dam continues to receive very heavy inflow from Karnataka.

“There will not be any problem up to 1.20 lakh cusecs (of water flow). We can also manage up to two lakh cusecs by diverting a part of the flow in Kollidam through the existing vents, other than the damaged ones, of the old regulator,” said the official.

The official also believes that up to 80,000 cusecs can be safely allowed to flow through the Cauvery at Mukkombu. However, he concedes that the work on the construction of a new regulator, sanctioned at a cost of ₹387.60 crore, may be affected if there is heavy flow in the Cauvery. At present, work in under way on erecting piles for the new regulator, which is expected to be ready by March 2021.


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