He had suggested restricting the water level in Mullaperiyar dam at 136 ft in his dissenting note

Former judge of the Supreme Court K.T. Thomas, State’s representative in the Empowered Committee on Mullaperiyar, who has seen himself at the receiving end of critical remarks from various quarters in the State following the final judgment in the Mullaperiyar dam issue, has said that he is fully satisfied that the Supreme Court has considered all aspects raised by the Committee, but is piqued at the fact that his call to restrict the water level in the dam at 136 ft, made in his dissenting note, was not considered.

“I had given five reasons in support of my opinion, but probably those who argued would not have considered this dissent relevant at the time of the argument,” he said speaking to The Hindu at his residence at Muttambalam on Friday evening, where he had kept a studied silence for the past two days.

This level has been maintained for the past 35 years since 1979 and there has not been any reason to change it now, he said.

“While we have not made any objection to give the entire water from the dam to Madras presidency and later Tamil Nadu as we were self-sufficient in water, the position had changed after 1970 when the construction of Idukki dam was completed,” Mr. Thomas said pointing out that the catchment area of Idukki and Mullaperiyar dams had overlapped in many places.

“At any time it is our water that is flowing into the Mullaperiyar dam and as such, Kerala is the owner of the water. Being the owners of the water, once we have agreed to give water to Tamil Nadu that should not be at disadvantage to Kerala,” he said.

Protect ecosystem

Mr. Thomas also stressed the need to conserve the ecosystem that had developed around the lake when the water level was maintained at 136 ft during the past 35 years. He felt that it would be great relief for the people living downstream if the water level is maintained at the present height as they have already been mentally adjusted to it.

He said the Supreme Court had struck down the law which enabled the State to constitute the Dam Safety Authority since the court, based on the report of a seven-member team of chief engineers, had concluded in the 2006 judgment in a case between the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu that the dam was safe.

“In a federal set-up one State cannot unilaterally knock off the Supreme Court finding which was binding on both the States,” Mr Thomas said.

“The fact that Mullaperiyar was not an intra-State river was also finally decided by the Supreme Court in the 2006 judgment,” he added.

Mr. Thomas believed that the simple contention made by Kerala that the Mullaperiyar dam being an old dam as the sole reason to hold that the structure was unsafe, could not meet the sturdy argument from the other side which pointed out that since 1979, three stages of reinforcement works had been carried out.

As of now, a seven-member team of chief engineers and a three-member bench of the Supreme Court had concluded that the dam was safe in 2006. In the latest episode, an empowered committee of three former judges of the Supreme Court headed by a former Chief Justice of India and a five-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India have unanimously concluded that the Mullaperiyar dam was structurally, hydrologically and seismically safe, Mr. Thomas said.

Allegations misplaced

He also said that any allegation by politicians that the apex court had not taken into consideration the anxiety of the Kerala people was misplaced as the constitution of the three-member Supervisory Committee was for the very purpose of allaying the fears of the people.

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