Apex court asks Kerala to allow Mullaperiyar dam upkeep (Lead)

July 23rd, 2012 - 8:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The Supreme court Monday directed the Kerala government to permit Tamil Nadu to undertake maintenance and cleaning work at the Mullaperiyar dam.

The five-judge bench of Justice D.K. Jain, Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Deepak Verma, Justice C.K. Prasad and Justice Anil R. Dave said the maintenance and the cleaning work at the dam would be undertaken under the supervision of a three-member committee.

The three-member committee will comprise of a superintending engineer each from Tamil Nadu and Kerala and an independent representative nominated by the chairman of the Central Water Commission.

The court’s order came in pursuance of an application by Tamil Nadu government, seeking directions to Kerala to permit maintenance and cleaning of the dam by it.

The court has permitted 40 reports commissioned by an empowered committee be given to both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The empowered committee headed by the former chief justice of India, Justice A.S. Anand, was set up by the Supreme Court to look into the safety of the dam.

The Justice Anand committee, set up in February 2010, was mandated to study all aspects of the 119-year-old dam including its safety. The committee submitted its report to the apex court in April.

When counsel for Tamil Nadu told the court that they be permitted to lay a road from Vallakadadu to Mullaperiyar, Kerala’s counsel contended that the proposed road would require cutting of trees.

Kerala told the court that granting permission for laying the roads that may affect forests came under the domain of the union environment and forests ministry.

Both Tamil Nadu and Kerala are at loggerhead over the dam. Kerala had in 2010 had advocated dismantling of the dam, holding that its structure was not safe, while Tamil Nadu opposed it.

The Tamil Nadu government is managing the dam ever since its inception. Tamil Nadu, while holding that there was no threat to the structure of the dam, is seeking to increase its water level from the existing 132 ft. to 136 ft.

It was to resolve this imbroglio between Kerala and Tamil Nadu that the Justice Anand committee was set up to go into the safety aspect of the dam.

The court would next hear the case Aug 31.

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