NEW DELHI/CUMBUM: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the Kerala government’s plea to review its May 7 verdict holding the 120-year-old Mullaiperiyar dam safe and allowing Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 feet and ultimately to 152 feet after completion of strengthening measures in the dam.
The apex court also rejected the plea for giving open court hearing and said there was no reason to interfere with the judgment of its five-judge Constitution Bench.
“Application for hearing in open court is rejected. We have gone through the review petition and the connected papers. We see no reason to interfere with the order impugned. The review petition is, accordingly, dismissed,” said a five-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu.
The five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice R M Lodha had in May delivered its verdict striking down a law promulgated by the Kerala government declaring the Mullaiperiyar dam as endangered and fixing the water level at 136 feet.
The court had also pulled up the Kerala government for enacting a law which overruled its verdict of 2006 by which it had declared the dam safe and allowed Tamil Nadu authorities to raise the water level.
In its review petition, the Kerala government had said, “Section 177 did not apply because neither the Federation of India was established as contemplated under section 5 nor the Indian State (Princely State) of Travancore execute any accession under the provisions of section 6 of the Act of 1935.”
The Mullaiperiyar dam is a masonry dam and was constructed pursuant to the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement of October 29, 1886, across the Periyar river. The construction was completed in 1895. The dam is situated in Idukki district in Kerala and is owned and operated by the Tamil Nadu government. The length of the main dam is 1,200 feet and top of the dam is 155 feet.
Meanwhile, Kerala forest officials permitted the National Security Guards (NSG) to visit the Mullaiperiyar dam on Wednesday after the Tamil Nadu PWD officials signed in their register.
“As we don’t want the NSG members to again face embarrassment from Kerala forest officials, we signed the register,” said a senior PWD official. Subsequently, the NSG team conducted a two-hour inspection of the security arrangement at the dam site.