High Court to hear dispute over sharing dam water

The Madras High Court has decided to hear on February 1 a long standing dispute between farmers attached to the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project-Thirumoorthy Reservoir Project Committee (PAP-TRPC) and those forming part of Alambalayam Poosarinayakkan Aeri Pasana Vivasayikal Sangam (APAPVS) in Coimbatore district over sharing water from the Thirumoorthy dam constructed across the Palar in Tiruppur district in 1967.

A Division Bench of Justices K. K. Sasidharan and P. Velmurugan on Tuesday directed the High Court Registry to list a couple of writ appeals preferred by PAP-TRPC for hearing on February 1.

The appellant was aggrieved against the dismissal of a writ petition filed by it in 2010 challenging a 2008 Government Order for release of water to members of APAPVS and a consequent direction issued by Justice T. Raja to the Public Works Department in 2014 to implement the G.O.

According to PAP-TRC, many ayacutdars of Palar river were affected after the construction of Thirumoorthy dam and hence the government had decided to release water from the dam to seven water tanks utilised by them. It was also decided to release water for 135 days, once in two years, to the new ayacutdars. However, over the years, the period of release of water for new ayacutdars was reduced gradually to the present period of 48 days every two years.

Contending that Palar river was not the only source of water to the Thirumoorthy dam, the appellant claimed that it was also fed by the Contour Canal and other rainwater catchment areas. Stating that the PWD had been providing water to only seven water tanks, under the category of old ayacutdars, ever since it was constructed, the PAP-TRC claimed that inclusion of APAVS as the eighth beneficiary through the 2008 G.O. was illegal and unsustainable.

The committee further said that a government ordercould not override the provisions of the Parambikulam–Aliyar Project (Regulation of Water Supply) Rules of 1994 which govern the issue of sharing water from about 10 dams constructed under the project.

Govt.’s contention

The State government, in its counter affidavit, said the Poosarinayakkan Aeri was inadvertently not taken into consideration while formulating the Parambikulam-Aliyar project through it had been receiving water from Palar river for more than a century.

After a detailed study based on revenue records and after receiving a report from Udumalpet Tahsildar, in 2005, who confirmed that Poosarinayakkan Aeri had been receiving water from Palar since the British era, the government had decided to take corrective measures by issuing the 2008 G.O. Therefore, there is no merit in the case filed by PAP-TRC, the government claimed.

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