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Mullaperiyar dam: Tamil Nadu says Kerala obstructing work due on dam

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The State of Tamil Nadu has told the Supreme Court that due to the “obstructionist” attitude of the State of Kerala, it has been deprived of carrying out the required immediate repair work on the Mullaperiyar Dam, in response to the affidavit filed by the Central Water Commission and the Supervisory Committee. 

Tamil Nadu has prayed that Kerala be directed to cooperate, and provide all necessary assistance in a time-bound manner so that the remaining strengthening and maintenance works and has further sought that CWC/ Supervisory Committee carry out review on the safety of the dam only after completing the remaining strengthening works.

Tamil Nadu submitted that it in spite of repeated efforts for carrying out the remaining strengthening works as directed by this Court and by the Supervisory Committee, it has been successfully thwarted by State of Kerala. “The Supervisory Committee has failed to ensure compliance of its directions in spite of recurring in various minutes of meetings of the Committee,” it added. 

The State of Tamil Nadu has submitted that it needs to complete the following works; 

• Repair work of the approach road and cutting of trees for carrying out the balance strengthening works as per Judgment dated 27.02.2006.

• Access to the dam site through land for carrying out the remaining strengthening works which as also discussed in the meetings of the Sub- Committee, under National Executive Committee (NEC) of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), constituted pursuant to the directions of this Hon’ble Court. Para 3(c) – Status Report filed on 27.01.2022.

• The issue of forest clearance was deliberated in several Supervisory Committee meetings [9th to 14th meetings], but Kerala has not so far acted on the same. Para 3(d) – Status Report filed on 27.01.2022.

• Kerala did not permit to collect data from the rainfall station at Mullaikodi, but offered to install rain gauge stations to share the data by telemetric system [7th meeting], but till date it did not share the data. Para 3(e) – Status Report filed on 27.01.2022.

•The affidavit further states the steps taken by the state of Tamil Nadu to comply with the judgment dated May 7, 2014:

• Strengthening the Baby Dam & Earthen bund to enable to restore the water level to 152 ft.

• Repair works to be carried out to the Ghat road from Vallakadavu to Mullai Periyar Dam site.

• Maintenance and Special Repair Works.

• Repairing the Earth mount, left of Spillway.

• Instrumentation (installing the seismic instruments).

• Installation of Rainfall Telemetry system in the catchment area of Mullai Periyar Dam by Kerala.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the issue of the 126-year-old dam, where Kerala insists the dam is not safe and wants a new dam in its place, whereas Tamil Nadu insists that the dam is structurally strong.

Recently, the Central Water Commission in its report had stated that the overall condition of the Mullaperiyar Dam and its appurtenant structure, based upon visual inspection conducted by the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Committee, was found to be “satisfactory”, but added that a fresh review of the dam’s safety was due.

The current writ petition highlights the inaction of the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Committee in charge of overseeing the material and safety aspects of the Dam, and seeks proper dam monitoring.

The Court, via its order dated October 25, 2021, had directed all authorities to interact immediately and directed the Committee to take a firm decision about the maximum water level to be maintained in the dam.

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