Raising concerns over the effects of temperature rise on the Idukki Arch Dam, the Kerala Dam Safety Authority (KDSA) has recommended constructing a roof over the structure. The members of the Kerala Dam Safety Authority, who visited the structure last Saturday, said it will submit its recommendations regarding this to the government this month.
Built across the Periyar River, the Idukki Arch Dam, made using concrete, is one of the highest arch dams in Asia. The massive 554-feet tall and 650-feet wide structure has been constructed between the Kuravan and Kurathi mountains in Idukki district. Owned by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), the dam supports a 780-megawatt hydroelectric power station. The arch dam is also one of the major tourist attractions in the district.
Idukki Arch Dam (Courtesy: Twitter / Jaya Krishnan)
Speaking to TNM, chairman of Kerala Dam Safety Authority, Justice CN Ramachandran Nair, says that the exponential rise in temperature, induced by climate change, will adversely affect the dam in the long run if it is not conserved properly.
“Idukki Arch Dam is a concrete dam. With the increase in temperature at this rate, the concrete will undergo expansion and will pose a threat to the safety of the structure. The expansion will happen in the parts where there is no presence of water. In summer months, even in the deeper levels, this expansion will happen as the water level in the dam will be less,” explains Justice Ramachandran.
He recommends that a roof over the dam will act as a shade and protect the concrete structure from the heat of the sun. “The temperature is only going to increase in the coming years, and we should take adequate measures to protect it now,” says Justice Ramachandran.
He also adds that there will not be any technical difficulty in constructing roofing for the dam. “A basic shade-giving facility is enough,” he says. “They can choose any material, even a simple plastic sheet would do, it is just that the structure needs shade.”
Though constructing a roof over dams is not a regular practice in the country, Justice Ramachandran says that such a method can increase the durability of the structure in the present scenario. “Idukki Arch Dam is a sensitive structure and is a unique dam of Kerala. Other dams should also have to eventually follow this,” he says.
Kerala State Electricity Board, the custodian of the dam, will have the responsibility of constructing the roof if the state government approves it.
“I don’t think the government will reject the recommendation. In fact, this can also increase the tourism potential of the dam. Right now, people visiting the dam cannot even enjoy it properly as it is really hot after a point in the day time. With a shade, there will be more visitors to the dam as people can walk under the shade of the roof,” tells Justice Ramachandran.