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[Mullaperiyar dam case] Not an adversarial litigation, matter concerns safety of people: Supreme Court

The Mullaperiyar Dam, situated in Kerala’s Periyar River and which supplies water to five districts of Tamil Nadu, has been a contentious issue between the two states. While Kerala has been maintaining for the past few decades that the Dam is unsafe, Tamil Nadu has all along vouched for its safety.

At least two legal battles were also fought with regard to the same before the Supreme Court, both resulting in verdicts favourable to Tamil Nadu.

The Court had in the past few months been hearing applications by the Kerala government to ensure that the water level in the Dam’s reservoir is not allowed to exceed 139 feet, three feet below the permissible limit of 142 feet prescribed by the 2014 judgment of the top court.

The Supreme Court had in 2018 passed an order to maintain the water level at 139 feet during the Kerala floods as a temporary arrangement.

The Kerala government in its plea filed in October last year year asked for a similar prayer in view of the incessant rains in the State, which had led to a rise in the water level of the reservoir.

The Kerala government had later filed a detailed affidavit stating that the 126-year-old Dam is structurally unsafe, should be decommissioned and a new Dam should be constructed.

Any failure of the Mullaperiyar Dam could have a cascading effect on the Idukki Dam situated downstream, and the combined failure of the two dams will have a catastrophic impact on the lives and properties of 50 lakh people, the affidavit had said.

It had also submitted that in the past few years, erratic rainfall patterns caused due to climate change have led to instances of sudden spikes in the water levels of the Dam’s reservoir.

In response, the Tamil Nadu government had submitted that the Kerala government was raising the issue of safety in a bid to prevent the water in the Dam’s reservoir from being raised to 142 feet as mandated by the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgment.

The Court has, however, said that it will not go into the management of the dam and water in the reservoir and applications and requests concerning water management of the dam have to be first made before the Supervisory Committee appointed by the top court in 2014

Source: Barandbench

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