The Supreme Court on Monday permitted Tamil Nadu to carry out repair and maintenance works on the Mullaperiyar dam in the presence of the Superintending Engineer of Kerala and an independent member nominated by the Chairman of the Central Water Commission.

A five-judge Constitution Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, R.M. Lodha, Deepak Verma, C.K. Prasad and Anil R. Dave passed this order on an application filed by Tamil Nadu for a direction to permit it to undertake certain maintenance works. The Bench passed the order after hearing senior counsel Vinod Bobde for Tamil Nadu and senior counsel Harish Salve for Kerala. The Bench accepted Kerala’s plea for copies of the test reports which formed the basis for the Empowered Committee, headed by the former Chief Justice of India A.S. Anand to submit its report.

The Bench said Tamil Nadu could take up the work of re-laying the wearing coat on the top of the baby dam; it permitted Tamil Nadu to clear the entry to the leading channel and the tunnel by removing silt and debris for ensuring free flow of water While allowing Tamil Nadu to lay an approach road from Mullaperiyar dam to Vallakadavu, it said it should be constructed after getting the necessary clearances from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The Bench allowed Tamil Nadu to clean the stilling basin to fill up the eroded pockets with Epoxy concrete; reaming the drainage holes in the drainage galleries, and all periodical routine maintenance works.

In its application, Tamil Nadu said “when it proceeded to carry out routine maintenance work to fill up the soil trial pits put up in the downstream side of the baby dam with earth, Kerala Police personnel stationed at the dam site stopped the work. It had become imperative for the applicant State to approach this Court for appropriate decision on the State of Kerala to instruct the Kerala police and the forest guards, rangers and officers of Kerala not to obstruct the officials of the State of Tamil Nadu from carrying out the works, which are urgently required to be done. The State of Kerala is persisting with its obstructionist attitude to carry out the maintenance work, even though it would amount to violation of this Court’s order dated November 10, 2009, wherein it has been ordered that status quo will not be an impediment to carry out maintenance and repairs for proper upkeep of the dam.”

Further hearing

The Bench directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on August 31.

It also asked Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia to reconstitute the Bench since one of the judges was due to retire by then.