Big day for Jaya govt: SC quashes Kerala law on Mullaperiyar dam
In a setback to the Kerala government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a law promulgated by it declaring Mullaperiyar dam as endangered, and restrained it from obstructing Tamil Nadu government to raise the water level.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha directed the Kerala government not to implement the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation (Amendment) Act, 2006.
It also appointed a three-member committee comprising representatives of the Centre and the governments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to supervise safety of the dam periodically.
It empowered the committee to issue directions for ensuring the safety of the dam.
The apex court had on 21 August, last year, reserved its verdict on the legal battle between Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments over Mullaperiyar dam.
There had been differences between the two states over the safety of the dam. While Tamil Nadu contended the dam was safe and its water level had to be raised from 132 feet to 136 feet, Kerala maintained that the structure was weak and needed to be replaced.
As tension between the two states rose in December 2011, a two-member technical team of the apex court-appointed Empowered Committee had visited the site and concluded that recent tremors in that region did not have any impact on the dam and that it was safe.
Meanwhile, reports from Tamil Nadu say that state chief minister Jayalalithaa has hailed the top court judgement on Mullaperiyar dam as ‘historic victory’. While hailing the top court verdict Jaya on Wednesday said it has clearly established the water rights of farmers of Tamil Nadu.
‘Through this verdict, the livelihood of people and the farmers of Southern Tamil Nadu have been protected’, she said in a statement here.
With this order the rights of Tamil Nadu and her government to get justice to people have fructified, she said and flayed the Centre and DMK for ignoring the demands of the state for increasing the dam’s water level to a height of 142 ft.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu welcomed the apex court verdict and AIADMK functionaries distributed sweets at the party office in the city.
DMK president M Karunanidhi, reacting to the order, said ‘the verdict on Mullaperiyar brings happiness. It has said Kerala should not construct a new dam’.
MDMK chief Vaiko, TNCC president BS Gnanadesikan, CPI-M state secretary G Ramakrishnan, CPI state secretary D Pandian and BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit chief Pon Radhakrishnan also welcomed the order.
While the Congress-led UDF government in Kerala said it would explore further legal options after studying the SC order quashing its legislation passed on the Mullaperiyar Dam safety issue.
‘Our prime concern all along has been the safety of the dam and its fallout on the people. After studying the Supreme Court order and in consultation with legal experts we will decide on the next course,’ chief minister Oommen Chandy told reporters while reacting to the order.