Scrap 1886 lease on Mullapariyar Dam, says plea in Supreme Court

Says TN, Kerala have not taken measures for safety of India’s oldest dam

Updated - March 20, 2021 12:50 am IST

Published - March 19, 2021 09:58 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Mullaperiyar Dam. File

A view of the Mullaperiyar Dam. File

The Supreme Court on Friday decided to examine a plea to terminate the lease deed concerning the Mullaperiyar dam, originally signed between the Maharaja of Travancore and the British Secretary of State for India in Council for ‘Periyar Project’ in 1886.

A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar issued notice to the Centre and other parties, including Tamil Nadu and Kerala on a petition filed by an NGO, Suraksha Public Charitable Trust.

The petition contended that the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which succeeded the original signatories of the lease deed in 1970, have breached the terms of the deed.

It said both States have not taken care of the safety issues concerning the dam. Tamil Nadu has “not carried out the construction of an evacuation tunnel at low level to make possible evacuation of water in the event of a distress to oldest dam in India, as prescribed mandatory in the 'Guidelines for Preparing Operation and Maintenance Manual for Dams'. This is a breach of the terms of the lease deed”, the petition said.

Tamil Nadu did not carry out the necessary repairs on the dam in time-bound manner, it added.

The petition further said that Kerala, as the “landlord” of the 8,000 plus acres on which the dam is situated should terminate the lease with “tenant” Tamil Nadu.

“The lease deed entered between the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu (tenant) clearly states that the landlord has the right to terminate the lease with immediate effect in the event of breach of terms of the lease deed by the tenant,” the petition said.

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