The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it would hear from July 23 on a day-to-day basis the Mullaperiyar dam dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Justice R M Lodha, Justice H L Dattu, Justice Chandramauli Kr Prasad, Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice M Y Eqbal told senior counsel Harish Salve and Mohan Katarki appearing for Kerala and Vinod Bobde and Umapathi Ganesan appearing for Tamil Nadu that it was ready to hear their arguments, but asked whether they would be able to complete their submissions before the summer vacation commences on May 12.
To this, Salve replied that it was not possible. Disputes like this are complex, sensitive and the court must hear all the parties fully. No state should feel that it has not got a full opportunity to present its side. Arguing under constraints of time, about four weeks may not be possible, counsel said.
Salve also said that imperial agreements involved in the case are being questioned. Hear everybody, good, bad and decide. This is such a case that in whatever way your Lordships decide, both parties will be unhappy, Salve submitted. Senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan, also appearing for Kerala said the Bench should examine whether the earlier judgment of the apex court on the issue is binding. The issue of the safety of the dam has not been settled, he submitted. The stand of Tamil Nadu is that the 119-year old dam is strong enough and the water level in the dam has to be raised from 132 feet to 136 feet.
However, Kerala opposes this on the ground that the structure of the dam is weak and a new dam needs to be built to replace it.