J. Venkatesan

Application to be heard along with the main matter

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday posted for hearing on October 20, an application filed by Tamil Nadu challenging the Centre’s permission to Kerala for conducting a survey and an investigation in the Periyar Tiger Reserve area for the construction of a dam in the place of Mullaperiyar dam.

Tamil Nadu contention

A three-Judge Bench headed by Justice D.K. Jain had already fixed October 20 for final hearing of the suit filed by the Tamil Nadu government questioning a law enacted by Kerala to prevent raising the level of the Mullaperiyar dam beyond 136 ft.

Tamil Nadu had contended that the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006 Act was an attempt to subvert and reverse the judgment of the Supreme Court and was clearly unconstitutional.

The present application filed in the same suit was mentioned by senior counsel V. Krishnamurthy, appearing for Tamil Nadu, before a Bench of Justice Jain and Justice H.L. Dattu. He sought a direction to stay the Centre’s permission and to restrain Kerala from conducting the survey.

However, Justice Jain told counsel that the application could be heard on October 20 along with the main matter and nothing would happen within a week or so.

The Bench directed the application to be listed on October 20 along with the main suit.

Counsel Haris Beeran represented the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Counsel Mohan Katarki represented Kerala.

Tamil Nadu in its application said Kerala had filed its written statement in the suit stating that the Chief Minister made a proposal for the construction for the new dam and “in the interim period when a new dam is being constructed, the present flow of water to Tamil Nadu will be maintained.”

11 issues

On the other hand, Tamil Nadu said the existing Mullaperiyar dam “is safe after the completion of strengthening works and there is no case made out for the construction of a new dam. Based on the pleadings of the parties, the court had framed 11 issues, of which issue No. 9 pertained to new dam.

Despite framing the issue “Kerala has led no evidence on Issue No. 9 with regard to the proposal for the new dam. On the contrary, Tamil Nadu in its evidence has clearly deposed that the present dam is structurally safe and there is no necessity for the new dam.”

‘Restrain Kerala’

It said, “Kerala moved an application before the National Board of Wild Life by making an incorrect and untrue statement. Further such proposals are required to be examined and processed by Central Empowered Committee (CEC) under the MoEF.”

The application sought a direction to restrain Kerala from taking up any activity with regard to the new dam pending disposal of the suit and stay the operation of the permission dated October 6.