Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Kerala moves SC to review decision on raising Mullaperiyar dam height

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Posted: July 1, 2014 10:38 am | Updated: July 1, 2014 10:57 am

The Kerala government on Monday filed a petition in the Supreme Court, demanding a review of the verdict that allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the height of the Mullaperiyar dam from 136 ft to 142 ft.

In its review petition, Kerala submitted that the Supreme Court had erred in ignoring its argument that Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution had been violated in the “non-disclosure and non-supply of the investigations, tests and studies (ITS) on safety aspects” and “was contrary to the rules of natural justice and fair procedure”.

Kerala claimed it had no opportunity to contest the veracity or correctness of the Central Water Commission’s studies on probable maximum flood, which could be caused with the raising of water level at the dam in Kerala’s Thekkady district.

The petition added that the judgement also suffered from fundamental and erroneous assumption that the Tamil Nadu government became the successor to the 1886 agreement between the then Madras Presidency and the princely State of Travancore since the agreement was still valid.

Protecting the “legal right” of Tamil Nadu, a five-judge Constitution bench had earlier had declared as unconstitutional€ a law enacted by Kerala to restrict water level in the Mullaperiyar dam to 136 ft.

The court had further restrained Kerala from obstructing Tamil Nadu from raising the water level in the dam on the Periyar river to 142 ft and from carrying out necessary repair works.

A lease for 999 years entered into by the British government with the Maharaja of Travancore in 1886 was held to be valid by the bench. By virtue of this lease, the then Madras Province was made the beneficiary of water from Kerala.

The court had also pulled up the Kerala government for passing the Act and overruling its 2006 verdict, wherein it declared the dam safe and allowed the Tamil Nadu authorities to raise the water level.

The bench had said the court’s earlier judgment on the safety concerns operated as res judicata (a matter that has been adjudicated and not to be pursued further).

After eight years of construction across the Periyar river, the Mullaperiyar masonry dam was completed in 1895 on the basis of a October 29, 1886, lease agreement. The dam is owned and operated by the government of Tamil Nadu.

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