Accepting Tamil Nadu’s observation that increasing the level would cause no damage to the dam, the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the review plea filed by Kerala against the verdict to raise the water level at Mullaperiyar dam to 142 feet.
The five-member bench headed by chief justice H L Datta supported the argument by Tamil Nadu, saying that the dam would not be weakened even if the water level is raised to 142 feet. Tamil Nadu had already informed Kerala that the dam is “structurally”, “hydrologically”, “seismically” safe to initially store water upto 142 feet.
In mid-November, Kerala CM Oommen Chandy had written to Tamil Nadu CM Panneerselvam, expressing his concern over the safety of people and has urged to reduce water level nearing to 142 ft. Panneerselvam was asked to lower the water level by diverting the excess waters to Vaigai Reservoir.
However, Panneerselvam in his reply to Chandy said, “The operation of the Mullai Periyar Reservoir is managed in such a way as to obtain optimum utilisation of the available water considering the probable monsoon rainfall and the need. Therefore, the Government of Kerala cannot interfere with the regulation of flows from the Mullai Periyar Dam.”
Mentioning SC’s decision last May that stated “there is apparently no immediate justification to open the gates,” Panneerselvam had written, “I, therefore, request you to extend full co-operation to implement the orders of the Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to store water up to 142 ft in Mullai Periyar Dam.”
After Tamil Nadu CM Panneerselvam sought cooperation to store water up to 142 ft in Mullaperiyar Dam to Kerala CM Chandy, the Kerala government has approached SC seeking order to lower the water level.
The Mullaperiyar Dam was built under an 1886 accord between the Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British ruled Madras state. Since then, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are locked in a dispute over the dam. The dam, which is situated in the Idukki district of Kerala is, however, owned and operated by the Tamil Nadu government.