NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday sought the response of the Centre on a plea by the Tamil Nadu government seeking CISF protection for the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri, issued notice to the Centre and slated the hearing after four weeks.
In twists and turns, the court, which had dismissed Kerala government’s plea seeking clarification on the May 5, 2014, judgement allowing to raise the storage level to 142 feet, recalled its order on the request of the senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan, who said that Kerala would like to withdraw the application and go before the three-member Mullaperiyar committee.
The bench then accepted his request for withdrawal of the application in which Kerala had contended that the storage should not be increased to 142 feet until all the 13 spillover gates of the dam were operational. It said that only 12 were functional at the time of the judgement.
Kerala has further sought that the level should be raised beyond 136 feet only after exhausting the storage into Vaigai.
The Supreme Court on December 3 had dismissed the Kerala government’s plea to review its May 7, 2014, verdict holding as safe the 120-year-old Mullaperiyar dam and allowing Tamil Nadu to raise the level to 142 feet and ultimately to 152 feet after completion of strengthening measures on the dam.
Mullaperiyar dam was constructed pursuant to the Periyar Lake Lease Agreement of October 29, 1886 across Periyar river. The construction continued for about eight years and was completed in 1895.
The Mullaperiyar dam, situated in Thekkady district in Kerala is being owned and operated by Tamil Nadu government. The length of the main dam is 1,200 feet and the height is 155 feet.
Meanwhile, speaking to Express, Water Resources Minister P J Joseph pointed out that the state was left with little options other than going for a political solution. ‘’In fact, a political solution involving the Centre would be the only option. Meanwhile, we are going ahead with the demand for a new dam. The Union inistry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has already given clearance to carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for the new dam,’’ Joseph pointed out.
The Minister further added that there’s a country-wide move for decommissioning dams. ‘’Mullaperiyar being one of the oldest dams in the country, the demand for constructing a new dam across river Periyar will always be alive. We have been trying to raise our concerns about the anxiety of people living in the downstream,’’ he added.
On Friday, the apex court rejected Kerala’s plea seeking clarification in the SC verdict allowing Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 ft. In its petition Kerala had said though it doesn’t oppose the SC verdict, the state needed some clarifications on the terms and conditions. The state had also demanded that the water level in the dam should be reduced step by step if it goes above 142 ft. However, all these demands were rejected by the Supreme Court.
The state has been pushing its proposal for a new dam at Mullaperiyar for some time now. In fact, an amount of Rs 50 crore was earmarked for the purpose in the 2013-14 state budget also.
However, the move didn’t go well with Tamil Nadu, which opposed the move. The proposal for constructing a massive structure inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR) drew flak from the state Forest Department also.