The Supreme Court became pro-active in trying to ameliorate the pains of the flood affected people of Kerala when, on Friday (August 17), it talked about exploring the possibility of reducing the level of water at the Mullaperiyar dam in Tamil Nadu from the current 141 to 139 feet.
The court asked the national crisis management committee and sub-committee constituted by Union Cabinet secretary to look into this, because the court was not an expert to deal with this. The court said advice from the committee on rescue, relief and rehabilitation will be binding on the Kerala government.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud was hearing a plea under Article 32 by Russel Joy who has asked the court to issue a writ of mandamus directing the government of India to appoint an international agency with the technical expertise to study and to adjudge the lifespan of the Mullaperiyar dam and ascertain the date/period on which the said dam must be de-commissioned.
The plea made it clear that the dam in question was in a bad state and should be decommissioned before it bursts.
In this backdrop, and even as the situation worsened in Kerala, with over 164 dead and upto 100 dead in a day of floods, as per reports, the counsel for petitioner prayed that the management of the dam and the situation be handed over to the crisis management committed as constituted by this court in 2014 in accordance with Section 8 of natural disaster management act.
The petition also submitted that common people who have been displaced find themselves affected due to political conflict between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Keeping in mind the situation needs efficiency and responsiveness, the management must be handed over he reiterated as the maximum limit of 139 has gone up to an alarming 142.
Additional Solocitor General PS Narshima appearing for the Union of India submitted that three committees were constituted, one in 2014 subsequently in January and the third sub-committee by the state cabinet for this particular disaster. The committees are working in consonance with each other, the committees thereto consists highly qualified personnel and should be trusted.
Senior Counsel H Raval, appearing for Kerala, said that this bench must not preempt the committee by passing any deliberate order today.
The matter has been next listed for August 24.
—India Legal Bureau