Special Correspondent

Bench asks Government to file its response in one week Kerala asked to file report in a week

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Kerala Government on an application filed by the Tamil Nadu Government seeking a stay on the operation of the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006, insofar as it applied to Mullaperiyar dam.

A Bench of the Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justice C.K. Thakker issued notice after V. Krishnamurthy counsel for Tamil Nadu made a mention about filing of the application in the original suit filed by the State in April for declaring the Kerala law was unconstitutional. The Bench asked Kerala to file its response in one week and directed listing of the matter after two weeks.

The Kerala law was enacted following a judgment of the apex court delivered on February 27 asking Kerala to allow Tamil Nadu to raise the water level from 136 ft to 142 ft after some repairs were carried out.

In its suit, Tamil Nadu maintained that making the law applicable to the Mullaiperiyar dam under the ownership and control of Tamil Nadu was unconstitutional, null and void being beyond the legislative competence of the Kerala State legislature.

It pointed out that the law empowered Kerala's Dam Safety Authority to reach its own findings as to the safety of the dam and to direct measures to be taken to direct Tamil Nadu to suspend or restrict the functioning of the Mullaiperiyar dam or even decommission the dam and the State was obliged to comply with such directions.

In an additional affidavit, Tamil Nadu said that following news reports dated August 20 of a mild tremor of 2.1 on the Richter scale, 17 km from the dam area, officials of Kerala inspected the dam the next day and it was found that the tremor had no effect whatsoever on the safety of the dam.

However, Kerala was trying to politicise the issue by making several press statements by the Ministers and sought to invoke the provisions of the new law by directing members of the authority to inspect the Mullaiperiyar dam and to submit a preliminary report.

Tamil Nadu asserted that the attempt of Kerala was to enforce the provisions of its law and prevent the applicant from exercising its legal rights recognised and granted by the apex court.