CHENNAI: Taking strong exception to the clearance given to Kerala for carrying out an Environmental Impact Assessment Study for a new dam at Mullaiperiyar in a 10 km radius, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to instruct the Union Environment and Forests Ministry to withdraw the same forthwith.
Kerala had obtained this by stealth, he said in a letter to Modi, and sought an immediate and positive response in this regard.
Pointing out that the dispute over the structural safety of the dam had reached finality when Kerala’s review petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court recently, the Chief Minister, said Kerala had again approached the National Wild Life Board by not revealing the entire facts and the judgments of the apex court.
“The people of Tamil Nadu are, therefore, justifiably perturbed over the clearance given to the Kerala government for conducting the Environmental Impact Assessment Study”, Panneerselvam said and reiterated that the action of the Standing Committee of National Board for Wild Life was totally in violation of the verdicts of the SC.
In this connection, he recalled the ruling of the five-member Constitution Bench of the SC on May 7: “...for the construction of new dam, there has to be agreement of both the Parties. The offer made by Kerala cannot be thrust upon Tamil Nadu. Therefore, it has to be decided against Kerala and it is so held.” Hence, it is clear that the SC had categorically held that Kerala is prohibited from constructing a new dam.
Further, he reiterated the categorical finding of the SC that the Mullai Periyar Dam is hydrologically, structurally and seismically safe and had permitted Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 ft. Initially, the SC in its May 7 judgment had relied upon the report of the Empowered Committee headed by former Chief Justice of India A S Anand, which had held that since the existing dam is found safe, the proposal for a new dam requires reconsideration by the State of Kerala.
MullaiPeriyar Dam is owned and operated by Tamil Nadu under the lease agreement of 1886, which has been crystallised in the judgment of the SC and operates as res judicata against Kerala.
Significantly, the plea raised by Kerala relating to the 1886 lease deed and structural safety of Mullai Periyar dam had been finally decided by the SC in its judgments dated February 27, 2006 and May 7, 2014 and Kerala is estopped from raising or re-agitating the issues again. “Therefore, any request from the Government of Kerala to the Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources/ Ministry of Environment and Forests regarding construction of a new Mullai Periyar Dam should not be acted upon by any agency of Government of India”, the Chief Minister added.