The Central Water Commission (CWC), as well as the Supervisory Committee of Mullaperiyar dam, have said to the Supreme Court that a fresh review of the dam’s safety is due and needs to be undertaken.
The CWC, in its affidavit filed before the Court, also stated that based on a visual inspection of the dam carried out by the Supervisory Committee, the last of which was held nearly a year ago on February 19, 2021. The overall condition of the dam and appurtenant structure was found to be satisfactory. The affidavit was filed in a petition which alleged the Supervisory Committee appointed by the Supreme Court of inaction on their part. The Committee was appointed to take care of aspects related to the safety of the Mullaperiyar Dam.
The Mullaperiyar Dam, which is situated in Kerala’s Periyar River, supplies water to five districts of Tamil Nadu. It has been a contentious issue between the two states. While Kerala has been mentioning for a long time that the Dam is unsafe, Tamil Nadu has all along vouched for its safety. At least two legal battles were also fought concerning the same before the Supreme Court, both resulting in decisions favouring Tamil Nadu.
The Court had been hearing applications by the Kerala government for the past few months to make sure that the water level in the Dam’s reservoir is not allowed to exceed 139 feet, 3 feet below the permissible limit of 142 feet prescribed by the 2014 judgment of the court. The Kerala government in its petition asked for a similar prayer because of the incessant rains in the State, which had led to a rise in the water level of the reservoir. The Kerala government had filed a detailed affidavit, later, stating that the 126-year-old Dam is unsafe structurally, should be decommissioned and a new Dam should be constructed. Any failure of the Mullaperiyar Dam could have an effect on the Idukki Dam situated downstream, and the combined failure of the two dams will have a destructive impact on the lives and properties of 50 lakh people, the affidavit had stated. It had also been submitted that erratic rainfall patterns caused due to climate change, for the past few years, have led to instances of sudden spikes in the water levels of the Dam’s reservoir. Responding to the petition, the Tamil Nadu Government had submitted that the Kerala government was raising this issue in a bid to prevent the water in the Dam’s reservoir from being raised to 142 feet as stated in the Supreme Court’s 2014 judgment.
However, the Court said that it will not get into the dam’s management and water in the reservoir & pleas concerning water management of the dam have to be first made before the Supervisory Committee appointed by the court in 2014.