Intervene in dam issue, Krishna Iyer urges PM

Kochi: Former Judge of Supreme Court V. R. Krishna Iyer at a press conference in Kochi on Saturday Photo:Vipin Chandran  

The former Supreme Court judge, V.R. Krishna Iyer, on Saturday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take the initiative to resolve the Mullaperiyar issue.

Addressing a press conference here, he said the Mullaperiyar dam had outlived its lifespan. The precautionary principle in the Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Environment and Development of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, to which India was a signatory, was applicable to the dam.

As per the principle, if there was a suspicion or a probability of an irreversible damage being caused to the environment, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. He said the authorities should act immediately to save the people living downstream of the dam.

“Mute spectator”

Justice Iyer said Dr. Singh remained a mute spectator. The Prime Minister should take the initiative to resolve the issue. He also urged the Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to try to settle the issue amicably. Justice Iyer said he had written to the two Chief Ministers on the issue. He took exception to Tamil Nadu reportedly denying entry to Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph to the dam site. In his letter to the Prime Minster, Justice Iyer said it was an “outrage and defiance” of the right of the Minister to visit that portion of the dam which was lying in Tamil Nadu.

Alarming situation

The former Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, K. Narayana Kurup, who was present at the press conference, said Kerala should harden its stand on the demand for constructing a new dam in view of the alarming situation caused by recurring tremors and poor condition of the dam. The principle of precaution applied to the Mullaperiyar dam. He said clausula rebus sic stantibus in the international law would apply to the dam. The clause gave one of the contracting parties the right to repudiate the treaty at any time without the risk of any legal consequences if there was a fundamental change of circumstances. Justice Kurup said that as per the clause, the Mullaperiyar agreement would “stand abrogated” or “repudiated” in view of the recent developments on the dam structure.

He said the dam had developed cracks and there was a strong possibility of it getting breached, posing a threat to the lives of 35 lakh people living downstream the dam. So this international clause could be invoked.

Justice Kurup said the State government should bring this clause to the attention of the Supreme Court. He was of the view that precautionary actions needed to be taken.

The century-old dam could not be repaired now. The only precautionary action was to decommission it and construct a new dam. Nobody was against Tamil Nadu or its people or against sharing of water with the State. If the dam was breached, Tamil Nadu would also be affected as its five districts would turn barren.

Justice Kurup said all parties should forget their political differences, bury the hatchet and strike a beneficial deal for the welfare of lakhs of people in both the States.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 6:05:16 AM |

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