J. Venkatesan

`A dam which has outlived its life span cannot be allowed to endanger life and property'

New Delhi: The Kerala Government has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking review of the February 27 judgment directing the State to permit raising the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 ft to 142 ft.

The apex court had also asked Kerala to permit Tamil Nadu to carry out the strengthening measures as suggested by the expert committee before allowing the water level to be raised to 142 ft.

In its review petition, Kerala submitted that it had no reservations about the directions for strengthening of the dam, but it had serious apprehension and objection to the direction to raise the water level. It said the Union Government did not address Kerala's objection to the procedure followed by the expert committee. The committee was of the view that the water level be raised up to 145 ft and Kerala had objected to the conclusion arrived at by the committee.

The petition said that the committee wholly ignored the consequential impact on down stream dams in case of failure of the Mullaperiyar dam which would have direct and immediate effect on the safety of all the three high dams of the Idukki, Cheruthoni and Kulamavu projects.

Expressing concern, it said "in case of such an event the water will plunge into the down stream course of the Periyar river, lower reaches of the Chalakkudy river and backwaters up to Munambam and the Vembanadu lake causing a deluge leaving not only Idukki and Ernakulam district under water but also would cover Kottayam, Thrissur, Pathanamthitta and Allapuzha districts."

Pointing out that there would be only 5 per cent benefit by increasing the water level up to 142 ft, the petition said "the consequent effects on the life and property of the people of Kerala for providing an insignificant percentage of additional benefit to Tamil Nadu will be highly disastrous."

The State was of the view that the 107-year-old Mullaperiyar dam had already surpassed its life span and its designed life tenure.

Therefore the balance life expectancy of an old dam had to be scientifically studied.

The expert committee had not properly considered the impact on ecology and environment, the petition said.