J. Venkatesan

To ensure safety of all dams Kerala was responding to a notice on the original suit filed by Tamil Nadu.

  • Kerala enacted the law after a Supreme Court judgment asked it to allow Tamil Nadu to raise water level in dam
  • "Law empowers Kerala's Dam Safety Authority to direct Tamil Nadu to suspend or restrict functioning of dam"

    New Delhi: The Kerala Government on Monday justified in the Supreme Court, the enactment of the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006, to ensure the safety of all dams in the State, including the Mullaperiyar dam.

    Kerala was responding to a notice on the original suit filed by Tamil Nadu for declaring the Kerala law unconstitutional, and an application seeking stay of its operation as far as the Mullaperiyar dam was concerned.

    Kerala enacted the law after a Supreme Court judgment on February 27 asked it to allow Tamil Nadu to raise the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 feet to 142 feet after some repairs were carried out.

    Tamil Nadu stand

    In its suit, Tamil Nadu maintained that making the law applicable to the Mullaperiyar dam under the ownership and control of Tamil Nadu was unconstitutional and null and void, being beyond the legislative competence of the Kerala State Legislature. The law empowered Kerala's Dam Safety Authority to reach its conclusions on the dam safety dam and also to direct Tamil Nadu to suspend or restrict the functioning of the Mullaperiyar dam.

    In its counter, Kerala said its Assembly was well within its powers to remove the basis of the apex court judgment. The Tamil Nadu suit and the application were not maintainable. The lease agreement of October 29, 1886 between the State of Tamil Nadu and the Maharaja of Travancore (under which Tamil Nadu got the land on lease and constructed the dam) was subject to the authority and powers of the Kerala Assembly to enact laws and impose restrictions on the storage as part of the regulatory measure to prevent submergence of land beyond the leased land; protect environment, flora and fauna; promote tourism and ensure the safety and security of its inhabitants.

    Kerala said the suit was not maintainable as raising the water level beyond 136 feet was not an enforceable right. Enforcement of pre-constitutional agreements between princely States was barred under Article 131 of the Constitution. It also said that the Tamil Nadu's plea for interim orders should be rejected as no case had been made out.

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