Monday, June 12, 2017

‘Thermocol trial unplanned’

The Hindu: Madurai: Monday, June 12, 2017.
The Public Works Department had not prepared any project plan before it went ahead with its infamous experiment of floating thermocol sheets in Vaigai dam presided over by Cooperation Minister ‘Sellur’ K. Raju to prevent loss of water due to evaporation, a response provided by the department under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed.
K. Hakkim, an RTI activist from Madurai, had sought replies for a series of questions regarding the experiment. To a question on what the planned budget for the experiment was, N. Anbuselvam, Assistant Executive Engineer (additional charge), PWD, Water Resources Organisation, Vaigai Dam Sub-division, has said that no plan was prepared.
The reply contradicts the statement made to the media by the Minister after inaugurating the experiment on April 21, 2017. He had said that Rs. 10 lakh had been allocated for the experiment.
Similarly, M. Muthupandian, the then Executive Engineer of PWD (Periyar Vaigai Division), had said during the inauguration that the experiment was carried out in 200 square metres of water surface. The RTI Act reply, however, states that only 60 thermocol sheets were bought for the experiment. The sheets used were less than one square metre in size. To another question on whether similar experiments had been tried in other dams, the PWD official had said that no such details were available in the files in his office.
“It is ridiculous that the PWD did not even spend time to come with a plan analysing various factors for such a publicised experiment inaugurated by the Minister in the presence of Collectors and other senior officials,” Mr. Hakkim said.
The exercise turned out to be an embarrassment for Mr. Raju and the PWD as all the thermocol sheets floated during the inauguration got washed ashore in less than 10 minutes due to heavy winds.It attracted widespread ridicule from the public with social media getting flooded with memes.