The Supreme Court on Wednesday told Kerala and Tamil Nadu to not approach the court for every issue regarding the Mullaperiyar dam , urging them to behave like normal litigants and not use the court as a platform to score political brownie points.
A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said the States should approach the Mullaperiyar issue in a dispassionate manner and take decisions in a consensual manner.
It reminded the two neighbours that the Supreme Court should not be compelled into the day-to-day management of the dam.
The court’s stern words came after Kerala filed an application complaining that Tamil Nadu was releasing water from the dam in the middle of the night without any prior warning, endangering the lives of thousands living downstream, unaware in their sleep of the danger to their lives. Kerala said Tamil Nadu should inform 24 hours before opening the shutters to release water.
The court said the State should first approach the Supervisory Committee constituted on the orders of the court to hear such grievances.
It said Kerala has a representative on the committee, who could inform the State beforehand about the impending release of water.
Senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, for Kerala, claimed the committee has not responded to the pleas made by the State.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, for Tamil Nadu, drily reacted that “such applications will keep coming” from Kerala’s side on one issue or the other.
The court said it was up to the Supervisory Committee to consider the need for the release of water from the dam, and when or how it should be released.
“But every activity should be consensual and the committee will take a decision...your [Kerala’s] representative is also there,” Justice Khanwilkar addressed Mr. Gupta.
“All political statements are being made here and such statements cannot be made in court. Let there be a dispassionate approach. Applications cannot come here on a daily basis. This is all generated by somebody’s ingenuity,” Justice Khanwilkar remarked.
“We deem it appropriate for such requests made first approach the Supervisory Committee before taking steps for release or management of the Mullaperiyar dam. If such request is made, the committee shall consider such request expeditiously in right earnest,” the court ordered.
It posted to January 11 a batch of petitions raising safety concerns over the Mullaperiyar dam.
Tamil Nadu, in an affidavit, has said the safety of the dam has been supported by reports of the expert committee and the empowered committee after extensive study. It said the height of the storage level of the dam at 142 ft. was endorsed by the Supreme Court in 2014 in a judgment.
Kerala, in turn, has been demanding reconsideration of the rule curve as the dam is situated in a seismic zone. It had accused Tamil Nadu of adopting an “obsolete” gate operation schedule dating back to 1939.