The 3-member committee is supposed to allay Kerala’s fears about raised dam level

A day after Kerala moved the Supreme Court for a review of its May 7 verdict on the Mullaperiyar dam issue, the Union government on Tuesday issued an order constituting a three-member supervisory committee to allay the State’s safety apprehensions.

The order was issued by the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The panel will be headed by L.A.V. Nathan, Chief Engineer (Dam Safety Organisation) in the Central Water Commission; V.J. Kurian, Additional Chief Secretary, Kerala’s Water Resources Department; and M. Saikumar, Principal Secretary, Tamil Nadu Public Works Department. In the May 7 verdict, the Supreme Court had directed for the constitution of a panel to “allay the apprehensions of Kerala” about the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam after the water level was raised to 142 feet.

The Union Ministry’s order restated the court’s judgment with regard to the committee’s powers and functions. As per the court’s verdict, the company shall, apart from supervising the restoration of full reservoir level to 142 ft, inspect the dam periodically — particularly immediately before and during the monsoon — and recommend necessary safety measures. Such measures shall be carried out by Tamil Nadu. The panel shall be free to take appropriate steps and issue necessary directions to the two States or any of them, if so required, for the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam in an emergent situation.

The order also stated that “the Committee shall meet as and when necessary”.

Decision-making, shall, ordinarily, be by consensus, the court had said: “If no consensus is reached, the decision may be left to the chairperson.”

The committee’s office would be situated at the dam site or, alternatively, in Thekkady as provided by the Kerala, while Tamil Nadu would have to bear the entire expenditure for the committee’s operations.