The five-member Empowered Committee constituted to go into the safety of the Mullaperiyar dam, at its second meeting, decided to permit both Tamil Nadu and Kerala to file additional documents and adduce fresh evidence in support of their respective claims.
In response to the notice issued in June, both the States filed their memoranda and the committee considered them and decided to allow further evidence to be produced by the parties.
The committee comprises former Chief Justice of India Justice A.S. Anand, Justice K.T. Thomas, retired Supreme Court Judge representing Kerala, and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, retired Supreme Court Judge representing Tamil Nadu, and former Secretary to the Ministry of Water Resources C.D. Thatte and retired Chief Engineer, Central Water Commission, D.K. Mehta.
Informed sources told The Hindu that the meeting lasted about four hours and counsel for Kerala appeared before the panel and pleaded for submission of more documents and sought permission for adducing further evidence. The committee acceded to the request and granted two weeks for filing additional documents by both the States and posted the matter on October 15 for making oral submissions by counsel for the parties.
Asked whether the committee would undertake a visit to the dam, the sources said the committee members would visit the dam site in December to get a first-hand look. By its February 18 order, the Supreme Court, acting on a suit filed by Tamil Nadu, directed the constitution of the committee and said the panel would submit its report in six months after considering all aspects, including Kerala's demand for a new dam as well as the safety of the existing one.
Maintaining that the State's concern is the safety of its people living in the downstream of the Mullaperiyar dam, Kerala asserted that a solution to the vexed problem lies in constructing a new dam that assures water to Tamil Nadu and safety to its people.
In its response filed before the Supreme Court-appointed empowered committee, on Monday, Kerala said: “When Mullaperiyar dam breaks, the downstream Idukki dam may also overtop, leading to a catastrophe. In that case, nearly 40 lakh people living downstream the Mullaperiyar up to Kochi will be affected by the fury of floods.”
In its response before the committee, Tamil Nadu has refuted Kerala's demand for the construction of a new dam in the place of the existing Mullaperiyar dam. It said, “The apprehension on the safety of the dam raised by Kerala is baseless and there is no need to insist on the construction of a new dam when the existing dam has been fully strengthened and has been found safe.”