Tamil Nadu has sought to restrain Kerala from building a new dam

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to Kerala government seeking its response to an application filed by Tamil Nadu to restrain Kerala from proceeding with the construction of the new Mullaperiyar dam.

A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Justices D.K. Jain, B. Sudershan Reddy, Mukundakam Sharma, R.M. Lodha and Deepak Verma, after hearing Tamil Nadu senior counsel Vinod Bobe and senior counsel for Kerala Harish Salve, asked Kerala to file its counter in eight weeks and reply thereafter by Tamil Nadu and directed the matter to be listed for further hearing on July 5.

The application also sought a direction to Kerala to maintain status quo with regard to the construction of the new dam and to direct the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests from proceeding with any study in regard to the new dam.

The Bench after taking into consideration the report of the Empowered Committee headed by former Chief Justice of India A.S. Anand, extended the tenure of the Committee by another six months for filing its report. The Committee has been asked to adjudicate the issues framed and its present tenure ends on April 30.

Governor's address

In its application, Tamil Nadu referred to the Kerala Governor's address in the Assembly stating that the government had prepared a detailed project report (DPR) for construction of a new dam at Mullaperiyar and the construction would be started this year.

The application pointed out that Kerala's offer of construction of a new dam was one of the issues pending before the Empowered Committee, which had not permitted Kerala to prepare a DPR for the new dam. Therefore the State could not unilaterally proceed with the preparation of DPR or take further steps for the construction of a new dam till the issue was resolved.

Scant respect

The statements made by responsible public authorities that the State had completed DPR and was going ahead with the construction of a new dam would show the scant respect the State had for the Supreme Court.

“It is evident that the State of Kerala is acting clearly in a manner that is violative of the Constitution and affecting the inter-State relations and also interfering in the judicial process and with the administration of justice which is wholly impermissible”, the application said and pointed out that the stage had come for granting injunction against Kerala from proceeding with the construction of the new dam.

By another application, Tamil Nadu wanted a direction to Kerala to permit carrying out necessary repairs to the dam to ensure the safety of the dam. The Bench issued notice and sought Kerala's response on this application also.