CHENNAI: The National Green Tribunal on Friday temporarily halted the Kerala government’s controversial mega car park project near the Mullaiperiyar dam. The southern bench of the tribunal, upon hearing an application filed by the Tamil Nadu government, issued the interim order directing Kerala to maintain status quo and not carry out any development or construction activity in the area till further orders.
Kerala’s attempt to build the car park near the dam located in Kerala but owned by Tamil Nadu, has already snowballed into a dispute. While Tamil Nadu claims that the land on which the car park is being built is a watershed area of the dam, Kerala maintains that it is part of Kumili town.
On Friday, the Tamil Nadu government impleaded itself in a case that the tribunal is already hearing about the construction activities in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, which was challenged by M S Thankappan, a resident of Idukki district in Kerala. The tiger reserve is located around the Mullaiperiyar dam.
On March 10, the tribunal had passed an interim order stopping Kerala from carrying out construction in the tiger reserve. But on May 26, the tribunal allowed Kerala to “shift” the car parking in the tiger reserve to the “peripheral areas” of the reserve and build anti-poaching sheds, provided the area is part of Kumili town. The Tamil Nadu government’s petition contended that it is a watershed area of the dam and falls within the reserve forest limits.
“The officials of Kerala have taken steps to filling up the Mullaiperiyar water spread area and found that the work was progressing in the area leased to Tamil Nadu... Any construction activity in the leased area for storing water will be an environmental hazard and will affect the ecological balance,” said advocate Abdul Saleem, who appeared before the tribunal. Tamil Nadu also highlighted that a road with a culvert exists and the culvert drains rainwater in that area, which in turn falls into the leading channel of the Periyar project. Accepting Tamil Nadu’s application to implead itself in the case, the tribunal, comprising justice M Chockalingam and expert R Nagendran, directed Kerala to maintain status quo. The case was posted to September 26 for the next hearing.