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No need to change Mullaperiyar water level: panel

Mullaperiyar dam. File  

The Supervisory Committee recommended in the Supreme Court on Wednesday that there is no need to change the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, for the committee, informed the court that Kerala did not agree with its opinion.

 

Tamil Nadu said the water level in the dam was 137.6 feet on Wednesday. Kerala wants the court to direct Tamil Nadu, which manages the dam, to not allow water stored to cross 139 feet. It said increase in water level and its eventual release would risk flood and endanger the lives of lakhs of people in Kerala.

However, Tamil Nadu argued that Kerala was exaggerating. The rains had already stopped. Besides, there were apex court judgments that fixed the maximum water level at 142 feet.

The Supreme Court orally observed that the situation was not quite as urgent as was made out, with the water level still around 137 feet as on Wednesday. The court asked Kerala to respond to the committee report on Thursday.

Continuous floods

Objecting to the committee’s recommendation, senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, for Kerala, said the State had seen heavy annual rains and floods for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019.

Editorial | Safety first: On Mullaperiyar dispute

Mr. Gupta said the rising water, which had to be discharged from the dam, would cause flooding. Kerala said the water level should not go above 139 feet ordered by the court in August 24, 2018 when the State was hit by flood.

Ms. Bhati was given two days' time on Monday to report back to the court with the decision of the supervisory committee. She briefed the court about the hourly monitoring of the ground situation at the dam.

“The water level is 137.6 ft. Rainfall has abated. In social media in Kerala there is a continuous campaign going on. The Kerala Chief Minister has made a statement in the Assembly that all these apprehensions are misplaced. Still, the unfortunate part is that this campaign is going on,” said senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, for Tamil Nadu.

 

‘Lives in danger’

The case concerns a petition filed by Idukki resident Dr. Joe Joseph and office-bearers of the Kothamangalam block panchayat in Kerala, who had expressed their apprehensions about the supervision of water levels in the Mullaperiyar dam located along the Periyar tiger reserve, especially during the rainy season.

“For the last one week, it has been raining heavily in Kerala. The lives of 50 lakh people will be in danger if the water level in the dam is raised,” advocate Wills Mathews, for Mr. Joseph, had submitted on Monday.


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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 8:10:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-need-to-change-mullaperiyar-water-level-panel/article37201756.ece

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