KOCHI: Though the Supreme Court has rejected Kerala’s plea on formation of a joint committee for Mullaperiyar dam operations, the order issued on Wednesday gave more powers to the supervisory committee, which will ensure better say for the panel in decision making.
The committee was constituted as per the apex court’s 2014 verdict. However, the court had not defined its powers. With Wednesday’s order, the panel has been vested the powers of an agency to address grievances of both states regarding water release and management of water level at Mullaperiyar dam.
The committee is headed by Gulshan Raj, a chief engineer with the Central Water Commission. The water resources secretaries of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are its members.
“The SC has accepted our plea and ordered that the committee should consult both states and decide on the quantity and time of water release. It is a big achievement for Kerala as TN will not be able to operate the dam unilaterally,” said the state’s standing counsel in SC G Prakash.
“Till now, TN was in control of dam operations and there was no transparency. They never heeded Kerala’s pleas for prior information on water release. Now it will have to approach the committee,” said Dr Joe Joseph, petitioner in Mullaperiyar case.
“TN’s priority was to maintain the water level at 142ft, not the concerns raised by Kerala regarding people’s safety. But Mullaperiyar does not have the storage to contain the huge inflow Our plea before the apex court is to establish a permanent office for the supervisory committee at Vallakadavu with technical staff to monitor the parameters directly,” he said.