The Assembly on Monday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to make a reference to the Supreme Court on the Mullaperiyar dam issue since the dam posed danger to the life and properties of nearly 40 lakh people living downstream of the dam.
The House called for the reference under Article 143 of the Constitution, citing catastrophic effect of a dam failure in a substantive motion unanimously adopted at the end of a discussion on the issue, initiated by Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan.
The motion, moved by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, said the concerns of the people of Kerala about the safety of the 119-year-old dam remained. The solution to the problem was construction of a new dam to ensure safety of the people and supply water to Tamil Nadu. In 1979, Kerala and Tamil Nadu had jointly identified a site for the new dam. The Central government should mediate for an understanding between the two States on construction of the dam.
It said the raising of the reservoir level would result in the destruction of forests, wildlife, and rare flora in the adjoining areas of the reservoir. The Centre should ensure that the laws for protection of forests, wildlife, and environment were strictly followed.
The Chief Minister told the House that the Supreme Court had not taken any of the points raised and concerns expressed by Kerala seriously. It was notable that Tamil Nadu could draw more water after the reservoir level was lowered in 1979. Kerala has legal ground to seek a review of the court’s verdict.
Minister for Water Resources P.J. Joseph said there could be no compromise on people’s safety, and the new dam was the ultimate solution.
The Minister said the State government and Members of Parliament from the State should press the Centre to bring a law on dam safety. Moreover, the issue needed to be raised at international human rights fora and elsewhere and public opinion mobilised against the raising of the water level.