Mullaperiyar issue: Kerala gears up to move Supreme Court against Tamil Nadu

Congress MPs from the State stage a protest regarding the Mullaperiyar dam issue at Parliament House in New Delhi during the winter session on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The State government will move an interlocutory application (IA) in the Supreme Court to prevent Tamil Nadu from releasing vast quantities of water from the Mullaperiyar dam, purportedly without warning and at night.

Irrigation Minister Roshy Augustine tweeted: “All possible attention with alacrity is being given to conduct of Mullaperiyar SC case. Regarding recent unilateral actions of TN in repeatedly releasing huge quantity of water at night, new and specific IA will be filed tomorrow (Wednesday) before SC seeking its urgent intervention (sic).”

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan accused the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government of striking a strangely slothful approach in the inter-State dispute.

Tamil Nadu routinely opened the flood gates at will without informing Kerala. People downstream of the Mullaperiyar woke up regularly to midnight flooding and sudden inundation of homes. Thousands were at their wit’s end. Peaceful sleep has eluded them for months. They live in a constant state of insecurity and fear, he said.

Yet, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has not convened the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Oversight Committee despite entreaties from the Opposition, he added.

Steeped in fear

Mr. Satheesan said the government appeared steeped in fear. It was afraid to take decisive action to protect the life and security of 40 lakh people who live in the shadow of the 126-year-old barrier that has outlasted its life span by at least 80 years.

Moreover, the government appeared to have sacrificed the State’s interests in the Mullaperiyar dispute on the altar of political expediency. By covertly allowing the Tamil Nadu government to fell trees and clear undergrowth to fortify the baby dam, Kerala jeopardised its case for a new barrier at a “seismically unstable” Mullaperiyar, he said.

The government had scapegoated some officials for the political decision. Moreover, Mr. Vijayan had lent legitimacy to Tamil Nadu’s argument against Kerala’s demand for a new dam at Mullaperiyar. It had also indirectly justified Tamil Nadu’s claim in the Supreme Court to keep the reservoir level at a “perilous” 152 feet, said the Opposition leader.

The government had permitted Tamil Nadu to fell trees in the Periyar Tiger Reserve without necessary clearance from the Central government. Kerala did not insist that Tamil Nadu follow due process. At a stroke, it had contradicted the State’s position on felling trees near the baby dam in the apex court, he said.

Mr. Satheesan pointed out that Mr. Augustine’s response to the situation was pathetic. “The Minister merely stated that the Mullaperiyar situation was painful,” he added.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 10:31:37 AM |

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