With the Supreme Court (SC) to take up the Mullaperiyar case for hearing on July 23, Kerala is gearing up to contest the findings of the SC-appointed Empowered Committee (EC) with special emphasis on the panel’s conclusion that the dam was safe.
Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph on Monday left for New Delhi for a special session on Tuesday with Harish Salve, Kerala’s senior counsel on the issue. According to sources, the State, though relieved with the EC’s acceptance of the State’s proposal for a new dam, was still firm on opposing the other findings in its report, including the conclusion that the existing dam was hydrologically, technically, and structurally safe.
It would be brought to the notice of the Supreme Court that the EC’s statement on the safety of the existing dam was based on studies conducted only by the Anna University and not by the Indian Institutes of Technology, New Delhi and Rourkee, both of which were appointed by the State with specific subject matters for study.
The IIT Delhi had looked into the hydrological factors including whether the dam would withstand a flood while the IIT Rourkee had specifically examined its strength to endure an earthquake, more so with regular earthquakes being reported from the region. Though the findings of both the reputed institutions were on the negative for the current condition of the dam, the EC had not considered these before finalising its report.
The State was unlikely to go back on its demand to keep the water-level in the dam to a maximum of 120 feet, instead of the current allowed level of 132 feet.
Instability of dam
Sources said the four-part report submitted to the EC was likely to form the backbone of the State’s arguments with modifications, if any were suggested by Mr. Salve. The report had detailed the instability of the existing dam, the need for a new dam, a blueprint of the proposed dam, estimates, and also the studies that preceded the decision to go in for a new dam.
The State Assembly had in fact passed a resolution in the current session, urging the State and Central governments to take steps to retain the water level in the reservoir at 120 feet till the apex court gave a verdict on the case. The resolution had also demanded that Tamil Nadu continue getting the entire quantity of water it had been drawing even while retaining the water levels at 120 feet.