Tamil Nadu on Tuesday sought the intervention of the Supreme Court for a direction to Kerala to supply water forthwith under the Neyyar Irrigation Project to the State to irrigate 9,200 acres in the Vilavancode Taluk of Kanyakumari District in every irrigation year.
A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Vikramajit Sen and Kurian Joseph directed the matter to be listed before another Bench, after Justice Joseph, who hails from Kerala, recused himself from the hearing.
When Additional Advocate General Guru Krishna Kumar, for Tamil Nadu sought urgent hearing, senior counsel Harish Salve and Rajeev Dhavan, for Kerala opposed it saying there was no urgency as the suit filed by Tamil Nadu itself was not maintainable.
Mr. Dhavan submitted that Neyyar was never their [Tamil Nadu] dam to seek release of water from Kerala.
Tamil Nadu in its suit said Kerala had not released water, which was unilaterally and arbitrarily stopped in 2004.
It said the Neyyar originated from the Agastya hill at about 6100 ft. above Mean Sea Level (MSL) in Kerala, and two tributaries of the river, Karuppaiyar and a jungle stream, which originates in Kaliyar village, Vilavancode Taluk, Kanyakumari district, joins the main river upstream of Neyyar Dam.
It said, “Since admittedly the Neyyar is an inter-State river, the action of Kerala in withholding the releases of water since 2004 is wholly illegal. The plaintiff is entitled to the release of water as per the existing arrangements, which were acted upon since 1965 till 2004. The plaintiff is entitled to receive 150 cusecs under the project to meet the irrigation demands in the Vilavankode taluk. However, it has not received the said quantity since 2004 and even prior to 2004 it has not received the full quantity of water.”
The suit sought a declaration that Kerala was bound to honour and implement the existing arrangement for supply of water under the Neyyar Irrigation Project and an interim direction to ensure uninterrupted supply of waters of the river Neyyar to the State to irrigate the areas in the Vilavancode Taluk of Kanyakumari District.