The Tamil Nadu government has told the Supreme Court that ”repeated assertion” by Kerala to seek decommissioning of the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is ”wholly impermissible” as the dam has been found to be hydrologically, structurally and seismically safe.
Mullaperiyar dam was built in 1895 on the Periyar river in Idukki district of Kerala.
In a response to an affidavit filed by the Kerala government on the Mullaperiyar dam matter, the state of Tamil Nadu has told the apex court that there is no limit specified for a dam’s life and the empowered committee has said it is linked to the inherent health and care through maintenance, repair and rehabilitation.
“The repeated assertion of Kerala and petitioners from Kerala in writ petitions filed from time-to-time inter-alia seek decommissioning of the existing dam and construction of a new dam, which is wholly impermissible in the light of judgment of this court on the safety of the dam,” the Tamil Nadu government has said.
“The dam has been found to be hydrologically, structurally and seismically safe,” it said.
The matter was heard on Saturday by a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and C T Ravikumar, which observed that the issue pertaining to Mullaperiyar dam is a matter of “continuous supervision”.
In its affidavit filed recently in the apex court, Kerala had said that ”no amount of rejuvenation” can perpetuate the Mullaperiyar dam and there is a limit to the number of years one can keep dams in service through maintenance and strengthening measurers.
The affidavit had said the only permanent solution for removing the ”eternal threat owing to the safety concerns” of the dam and for protecting the safety of lakhs of people living in the downstream of Mullaperiyar dam is to build a new dam in the downstream reaches of the existing dam.
In its response to Kerala’s affidavit, the Tamil Nadu government has said that the supervisory committee constituted by the apex court’s judgment of 2014 is constantly monitoring the safety of the dam.
It said that pursuant to the constitution of supervisory committee, the storage level of the dam was raised to 142 feet in 2014.
“The repeated assertion by the inhabitants of Kerala by filing petitions after petitions raising the issue with regard to safety of the dam and for construction of a new dam is an attempt to get over the binding adjudication, which is wholly impermissible,” the state of Tamil Nadu said.
It claimed that Kerala persists with “its obstructionist attitude” in depriving Tamil Nadu to carry out various activities related to the dam.
Regarding Kerala’s contention that uplift pressure and water pressure would increase if the water level increases from 136 feet to 142 feet, the Tamil Nadu government said the dam has been found to be safe, hydrologically, structurally and seismically, considering all the concerns raised by Kerala before the empowered committee. It has urged the apex court to accept the status report filed by the Central Water Commission (CWC) on three aspects raised in the petition — gate operation schedule, rule curve and instrumentation — and dispose it of.
The top court, which heard the matter on Saturday, has posted it for further hearing on November 22.
In the affidavit filed in the apex court, the Kerala government had urged that the proposal to fix the upper rule level of Mullaperiyar dam at 142 feet on September 20 as formulated by the state of Tamil Nadu may be avoided.
On October 25, the apex court had said that the supervisory committee should take a “firm decision” on the maximum water level to be maintained in the dam.