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Updated: December 14, 2011 16:34 IST

Intervene in dam issue, Krishna Iyer urges PM

Special Correspondent
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Kochi: Former Judge of Supreme Court V. R. Krishna Iyer at a press conference in Kochi on Saturday Photo:Vipin Chandran
Kochi: Former Judge of Supreme Court V. R. Krishna Iyer at a press conference in Kochi on Saturday Photo:Vipin Chandran

Kerala should harden its stand on the demand for constructing a new dam: Justice Kurup

The former Supreme Court judge, V.R. Krishna Iyer, on Saturday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take the initiative to resolve the Mullaperiyar issue.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the Mullaperiyar dam had outlived its lifespan. The precautionary principle in the Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Environment and Development of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, to which India was a signatory, was applicable to the dam.

As per the principle, if there was a suspicion or a probability of an irreversible damage being caused to the environment, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. He said the authorities should act immediately to save the people living downstream of the dam.

“Mute spectator”

Justice Iyer said Dr. Singh remained a mute spectator. The Prime Minister should take the initiative to resolve the issue. He also urged the Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to try to settle the issue amicably. Justice Iyer said he had written to the two Chief Ministers on the issue. He took exception to Tamil Nadu reportedly denying entry to Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph to the dam site. In his letter to the Prime Minster, Justice Iyer said it was an “outrage and defiance” of the right of the Minister to visit that portion of the dam which was lying in Tamil Nadu.

Alarming situation

The former Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, K. Narayana Kurup, who was present at the press conference, said Kerala should harden its stand on the demand for constructing a new dam in view of the alarming situation caused by recurring tremors and poor condition of the dam. The principle of precaution applied to the Mullaperiyar dam. He said clausula rebus sic stantibus in the international law would apply to the dam. The clause gave one of the contracting parties the right to repudiate the treaty at any time without the risk of any legal consequences if there was a fundamental change of circumstances. Justice Kurup said that as per the clause, the Mullaperiyar agreement would “stand abrogated” or “repudiated” in view of the recent developments on the dam structure.

He said the dam had developed cracks and there was a strong possibility of it getting breached, posing a threat to the lives of 35 lakh people living downstream the dam. So this international clause could be invoked.

Justice Kurup said the State government should bring this clause to the attention of the Supreme Court. He was of the view that precautionary actions needed to be taken.

The century-old dam could not be repaired now. The only precautionary action was to decommission it and construct a new dam. Nobody was against Tamil Nadu or its people or against sharing of water with the State. If the dam was breached, Tamil Nadu would also be affected as its five districts would turn barren.

Justice Kurup said all parties should forget their political differences, bury the hatchet and strike a beneficial deal for the welfare of lakhs of people in both the States.

Both Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are being misled by their Technical advisors officials and political leaders on arriving at an amicable solution.Firstly these chief Ministers are suspecting each other for they are made to be blind to know the real facts and both states are feeling that they are right in their own way in assessing the problem.A New Dam must be constructed in the interests of both the states and for this purpose a separate Corporation must be created on the lines of Sardar Sarovar project where water was allocated for Rajasthan which is not a riparian state.Here Tamil Nadu has an agreement for the water diversion from Periyar .Kerala cannot voluntarily repudiate the agreement without the consent of Tamil Nadu whose people established their right to Periyar water by using it since 100 years and more.If the dam breaks,soon lakhs of people die in both states.Hence New Dam must be constructed to the same height as the existing Dam to solve the problem

from:  Prof.T.Shivaji Rao
Posted on: Jan 2, 2012 at 06:31 IST

The Suggestion of V.R.Krishna Iyer is correct as it is based on legal and humanistic grounds and stands to scientific reasoning.Ramswami Iyer said that Courts cannot decide on Dam Safety because they depend upon Experts who knowingly permitted the Bhopal Tragedy to occur inspite of early warnings about the lack of safety measures as suggested by their own experts in advance.Mullaperiyar case is on similar lines and hence Shri Krishna Iyer wanted application of Precautionary principle for this case and hence urged Prime Minister to act in time by building a New Dam.Most of Government experts do not have comprehensive views on safety of the dam and they do not Qualify under section 45 of the Indian Evidence Act.The judges have as responsible citizens a duty to perform in time because of Art.51A[g]of the constitution.Supreme Court allowed Mr.Mehta,advocate to get his own experts to report on safety of the DCM plant.Such Independent experts may be used by Courts in this case also

from:  Prof.T.Shivaji Rao
Posted on: Jan 1, 2012 at 10:28 IST

Facts: 1. Dams harvest rains. Most of the catchment area for Mullai-Periyar DAM is in Tamil Nadu. TN is just asking a fair share of water collected in the hills within border. 2. There is no habitation between Mullai-periyar and Idukki Dam near the course of water. Idukki can hold 70 tmc and Mulliai-periyar only 15 Tmc. In the case failure, Idukki can safely hold all water from Mullai-Periyar. 3. Any earthquake intensity will be high near the Origin. Earthquake don't happen near the top of the maintain. Normally at the root where there is fault. Idukki will be closer than Mullai-periyar to the origin during any earth quake. 4. Many Technical experts certified that this DAM is safe. There any many dams in the world older than this still going strong.

from:  Sekar
Posted on: Dec 13, 2011 at 04:06 IST

The issue of Mullaperiyar Dam attains greater significance and spl. attention due to expresion of concern by eminent personalities from TN and Kerala and must be tackled in a professional way without any regional feelings. Our ultimate aim is to make the dam safe & sound for generations to live in comfort with enough water resource. At the other side local people are not interested to have the Kundankulam nuclear plant (ready for operation) to be shut down despite expert advice on safety and to avoid power famine.These issues are indeed a challenge to democracy and political wisdom of contemporary leadership. In the absence of great thinkers like Sir MV, Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton it is very difficult for India to get rid of Poverty & illiteracy and to get on with BPL cards forever.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 19:07 IST

The issue of Mullaperiyar Dam attains greater significance and spl. attention due to expresion of concern by eminent personalities from TN and Kerala and must be tackled in a professional way without any regional feelings. Our ultimate aim is to make the dam safe & sound for generations to live in comfort with enough water resource. At the other side local people are not interested to have the Kundankulam nuclear plant (ready for operation) to be shut down despite expert advice on safety and to avoid power famine.These issues are indeed a challenge to democracy and political wisdom of contemporary leadership. In the absence of great thinkers like Sir MV, Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton it is very difficult for India to get rid of Poverty & illiteracy and to get on with BPL cards forever.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 19:08 IST

what is this nonsense about supreme court verdit.repeated earthquakes are happening around this dam for quite some time almost 40+.thank god all are mild tremours.
first mullaperiyar dam is not constructed in a river passing through tamilnadu. it is built in kerala . during the time of british they put pressure on the travancore king to sign the traty to give water to tamilnadu that also for 999 years .do any body heared of a traty like that. the water can be used only for agricultural purposes, t.n is giving to keral a paltry amount of 10 lacks for water. tn wants to inrease the storage to 150 so that they can irrigate more land make more electricity.stop this be reasonable.this dam is not safe. build a new dam. t.n can use water and pay for it. t.n is not supplying the vegetables by using the water from mullaperiyar at a subsidise rate.
enough is enogh. u have land and kerala have water. be it a win win for both of us, kerala has to construct the dam. which law says 30 lack peopl

from:  ben
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 17:44 IST

Since mullaperiyar dam situating in periyar river kerala has all the authority to build a new dam to save life of kerala people. Tamilnadu people should understand pathetic situation of kerala that if at all, dam broken there will be huge lost of human and material resourses not only for kerala,it will affect whole nation, so please take a positive step to build a new dam as soon as possible.............

from:  anoop sathyan
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 17:19 IST

The speech of the reired judge Mr.Narayana Kurup only proves the fact
that no man can remain uninfluenced by effects of
regionalism/Caste/Religion; whether he is a Judge or a man on the
street, more so an Indian!

from:  Eprahim
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 16:25 IST

Why the analysis of Roorkee IIT, a reputed institution in India is
been called bogus prior to any consideration .If Tamilnadu is so sure
about the dam safety what makes them reluctant to come to the
discussion table and appoint an independent foreign agency rather than
playing with lives of people. It is not correct procedure comparing
two dam which is vastly varied in many factors mainly geographically,
environmentally, construction style, capacity and factor like prone to
earth quick and many. It is unfair to expect that this dam will
complete its term as per the contract 999 years. There are many
tremors happening in this part of the side very frequently than it
used to be so please put away all the politics from two side at least
at this point of time and find a suitable solution to save the lives
of the people from two sides.

from:  Andrews T.A.
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 14:23 IST

Legal experts can comment upon the legal issues of the dispute and the technical matters can be commented by technically qualified experts in the dispute.Politicians and general public with no legal or technical knowledge should refrain from both.But unfortunately in our country anybody is allowed to talk any nonsense and accepted also.Let us wait till the final verdict of the Supreme court after receiving the technical committee's report.

from:  S.Venugopal
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 12:08 IST


In the interests of the safety and lives of people, is the Kerala governement willing to:

Build a new Dam and continue with the existing policy of maintaining the dam , continue with 999 year agreement, operation and maintenance by TN and allow TN to use the water as it is used now?

I think Kerala government is beating around the bush. You cannot have the best of both the world. Kerala is trying to utilise major portion of water and discontinue the 999 year agreement existing today by projecting safety of the people.

from:  sjoseph
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 10:09 IST

Mr. Krishna Iyer is a person of great wisdom and compassion. He has spoken in support of Koodankulam agitation as well the Mullaiperiyar issue considering the contingent impact of catastrophic events. Mr. Kurup seemed to have spoken on a possible legal position Kerala could take to terminate the Mullaiperiyar agreement. On the Koodankulam the matter is with the executive branch. But with the Mullaiperiyar matter pending before the Supreme court, why are these gentlemen proposing arbitration by the centre or positioning for bilateral negotiation, outside of the court? Do they not believe Supreme court would be fair to Kerala? Why is this pressure on TN by Kerala through media? If safety is the only concern, is Kerala ready to let TN build a new dam at the same site with latest building technology, under the existing agreement?

from:  Rajan
Posted on: Dec 12, 2011 at 07:28 IST

he is not just a person or a judge, he is a thought, an ideology and an
institution by himself.
are you listening, Prime Minister?

from:  sayak chakraborty
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 21:50 IST

I cannot believe the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister,Jayalalithaa, will be so foolish to deny Kerala's demand for a new dam if there is a reasonable chance of danger to the dam and the people downstream. She knows Guruvayurappan to whom she prays will not like it if it were'nt so. This is despite her other foolish words such as "my people" as if she is the reigning MahaRani of Tamil Nadu and the Tamils are her subjects. Also, there may be an attempt on the part of the Keralite politicians to create a big opportunity for themselves to swindle some money in construction as it always happens in India. The solution is to appoint a committee of well-qualified Civil Engineers both from India and abroad to check the dam and suggest safety measures. Also, check the clamoring politicians antecedents for their past personal corruptive gains in such public construction projects. The real need is to check and strengthen the dam, if the Enginnering eaperts say so, without delay.

from:  Jag in USA
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 19:29 IST

sir,I have been going thru the news about dangers of Mullapperiar river dam issue and the dispute between Kerala & Tamilnadu for sometime now.I read also in your Hindu and the Businessline last page the page long letter of Jayalalitha on the Sunday(10th dec).But your paper has not so far given full details of the dam location and other related details with maps,etc to enable us-the indian public all over- to understand this strange inter state dispute,that is also between two neighbouring well educated states!? Can we have this news in ur well read news paper?

from:  c.g.venkatesan
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 15:39 IST

Mulaperiyar Dam , with many cracks on its wall , is posing a threat to many lives in the downstream belt . Raising above party politics , the CMs of both Kerala and Tamilnadu should immediately agree to have the new dam constructed . Kerala , without playing any politics , agree to give the accepted water quantity annually to Tamil Nadu . This way Tamilnadu will continue to get water and Kerala can save the lives of lakhs of people . Both the CMs would be appreciated and well remembered for this gesture .

from:  Balu
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 15:32 IST

If your articles and publish on this dam issue is not biased with kerala side why dont you publish an articles or publish from the Engineers or politicians and even the well wishers of tamil nadu and tamil cause. Its suggested to the newspaper like The Hindu shall the maintain balancing act on the boiling issue.

from:  prabakaran.
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 15:03 IST

Please understand the fact that if the dam moved even one km from its current location, TN would get even drop of water due to topography. Also, we have dam older than this dam. If kerela is really want to check the strength, why dont they allow TN to install stress/strain meters and check the reading instead of creating graphics videos? if they prove sceintifically that the dam is not good, everybody will agreed. Also please remember that this water is essential for indians in five districts more than few MW electricity

from:  venkatesh
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 14:41 IST

Regionalism blinds even the most learned individual and the former Supreme Court judge, V.R. Krishna Iyer,is no exception. His argument that the Mullaperiyar dam had outlived its lifespan and therefore needs to be decommissioned as per the Rio de Janeiro Declaration , if applied to all other dams in India,there will be no dams left with in the country. His comment that the authorities should act immediately to save the people living downstream of the dam is nothing but adding fuel to the scare spread by the Kerala Govt and politicians. The present location of the dam is the most ideal for catering to the need of the neighboring Tamil Nadu districts. Any relocation down stream cannot serve the intended purpose as water can only flow from higher level to lower level and not otherwise. The dam has been strengthened and finally the Supreme Court has certified the safety of the dam and permitted Tamil Nadu to raise the height of the dam to 152'. Justice Krishna Iyer is a petitioner now.

from:  B.Krishnakumar
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 13:54 IST

It is the Central Government to harden the stand in this alarming situation and not Kerala. Why Central Government is not giving due consideration to this burning issue? Responsible authorities who have commitments to society cannot behave like this. Ignoring this alarming situation is a serious mistake and a big negligence on the part of Central Government. Why take the chances of millions of lives in Kerala? For whom Indian Constitution stands for? There is no doubt at all. It is for the welfare of people. Are our democratic rights fully protected in India? It is doubtful. Are the rules and laws only for embellishment? After having reported the International law by our Honourable former Judge of Supreme Court, can we, the citizens of India hope that this burning issue would be resolved immediately? Now it is the time for Central Government to take initiative for resolving this burning issue otherwise millions of lives in Kerala will be jeopardized. It is a naked truth that only government at the Centre can only resolve this alarming issue. It is the very prime responsibility of Central Government to bring both states Chief Ministers around a table for settling this lofty issue.

from:  RAJENDRAN CHANDRASEKHARANNAIR
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 13:42 IST

If the dam is really in danger, as is reported, Kerala Govt. should, after giving notices to all concerned,lower the water level to 120ft. by diverting the excess water to Idukki.No one can play with the lives of 30 lakh people.Justice Iyer has explained the international law/convention on the subject.Construcion of a new dam by Tamilnadu may be permitted afterwards after mutual consultations.

from:  K. C. Nair
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 12:59 IST

I cannot understand why some one is against building a dam in Kerala. Every one knows the present MullaPeriyar dam is to be renovated today or tomorrow.It cannot last for another few years even when there is no unexpected flood or tremors.Kerala promised same amount of water to its neighbour; then why TamilNadu is against building a dam in Kerala? Why they do not consider the fact that a desaster can leave the Tamil Nadu area into a desert? About Supreme Court orders:
Heve these politicians ever respected the court orders which are against their interest. How many 'Bandhs' these people had sponsored after the Supreme Court's verdict against it? So don't try to 'respect' court orders when it suit to one's interest only. No court is against bilateral agreement on any issue. Supreme Court has no objection in Tamil Nadu to agreeing Kerala to build a dam, as it is their interest too!
Request to the politicians: Don't exploit people's sentiment to get votes in to their favour.

from:  Thomas Jose
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 11:46 IST

The plea of a retd. Hon'ble.Judge is strange! Fine, has this gentleman got faith in our constitution? Has he taken the Verdict of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in spirit? Even a gentleman , a retired citzen is more regionalistic than nationalistic and Patriotic. We earnestly request the media not to encourage comments over the Verdict of Hon'ble.Supreme Court thus leading the nation to loose faith in the Constitution of India.

from:  victor
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 09:55 IST

Kerala is well within ita right to raise any argument for demolition of the existing dam and can borrow the ideas given by Justice Krishna Iyer. But is it correct on the part of Justice Kurup to talk like a politician (Kerala sholuld harden its stand)? If Justice Kurup does not have faith in Judiciary and SC, it is a shame. Let at least learned Judges raise above petty politics.

from:  Ravi Narayanan
Posted on: Dec 11, 2011 at 09:33 IST
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