J. Venkatesan

Supreme Court's advice to the Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to attend with an open mind, the November 29 meeting on the Mullaperiyar issue. The Centre has convened the meeting in New Delhi.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice R.V. Raveendran asked the Chief Ministers not to issue any statement raising the emotions or expectations of the people, which might prove counter productive. It urged them to show statesmanship and bestow consideration to the problem with a larger perspective.

The Bench was hearing a suit filed by Tamil Nadu seeking stay of the operation of the Kerala law in so far as it applied to the Mullaperiyar dam and to permit the State to raise the level in the dam from 136 to 142 feet.

When the matter came up for hearing on Monday, Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvati informed the Bench that the meeting was scheduled for November 29.

Senior counsel K. Parasaran, appearing for Tamil Nadu, brought to the court's notice the various attempts made by Kerala to ensure that the level was not raised beyond 136 feet.

He said the atmosphere of goodwill between the two States was vitiated by the continued obstructive tactics of Kerala. He referred to the attempt by Kerala to send naval divers to assess the dam's safety.

Mr. Vahanvati intervened to say that the visit by naval divers was stopped on Centre's directions.

Mr. Parasaran also referred to Kerala Chief Minister's statement that there would not be any compromise on the 136 feet water level.

"How can Tamil Nadu, which has got a decree in its favour to raise the water level up to 142 feet, give up its rights and accept negotiation in this atmosphere," he asked.

On behalf of Kerala, senior counsel Harish Salve told the court how Tamil Nadu blocked the entry of vehicles to Kerala.

Though the State Government wanted to file an application to allow the entry of vehicles, he advised them against doing so.

The CJI told counsel, "As far as the present case is concerned both the States are manned by seasoned politicians. Let them not raise the aspirations of the people... Such statements affect the lives of the people. Many lives are lost; see what happened when emotions ran high in the Cauvery dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka."

Hearing in January

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing in the first week of January 2007.

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