Supreme Court for maintaining Mullaperiyar dam water level at 139 feet till August 31

In an affidavit filed before the apex court, Kerala has said the opening of all 13 gates of the Mullaperiyar dam may have been a cause for the deluge.

Updated - December 03, 2021 05:18 pm IST

Published - August 24, 2018 01:15 pm IST - New Delhi

The Mullaperiyar Dam in Idukki district of Kerala.

The Mullaperiyar Dam in Idukki district of Kerala.

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed with the conclusion of the Disaster Management sub-committee that the water level in the Mullaperiyar reservoir should be maintained two or three feet below the permissible limit of 142 feet till August 31 as an immediate precaution to guard against floods or other disasters. The sub-committee met on August 23 on an urgent basis in the aftermath of the deluge that ravaged Kerala where the dam is located. In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, Kerala said on Thursday that the opening of all 13 gates of the dam may have been a cause for the deluge. Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha, for the Central government, informed the Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra that the current water level in the reservoir was 139.998 feet. He said the secretaries of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been informed of the decision. The hearing was on a petition filed by Idukki resident Russel Joy, at the heights of the flood situation in Kerala, highlighting the perils faced by the people living downstream Mullaperiyar on the Periyar basin. He said there was lack of coordination, no disaster management plan and people were living in constant fear of flash floods. The CJI said the "rains have stopped. Everything has been settled. Today there is a change in the circumstances". Tamil Nadu, represented by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, however, submitted that he sees "seeds of discord" in Kerala's affidavit.  

Kerala  primarily wants a gradual release of water from the reservoir at 136 feet along with a "supervisory committee", comprising the Central Water Commission (CWC) chief and secretaries of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, to take decisions by majority on the dam when there is floods.

Kerala demands "management committee"

 

It also wants a "management committee" to manage the day-to-day operations of the dam. This committee should be headed by a Chief Engineer/Superintending Engineer of the CWC, with both Chief Engineers/Superintending Engineers of the two States, it said. "I see a clever device to get out of the judgment of this court," Mr. Naphade voiced his scepticism.

In 2014, the Supreme Court fixed the permissible water limit at 142 feet and formed a supervisory committee for the dam. But it allayed the apprehensions of Tamil Nadu, saying it would only go into the disaster management aspect and none other. The court directed Tamil Nadu to respond to the Kerala affidavit and posted the next hearing on September 6.

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