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Supreme Court agrees to hear Mullaperiyar Dam case expeditiously for final settlement

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The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear the Mullaperiyar Dam case expeditiously for the final settlement of all points of dispute. The Court said this while hearing a batch of petitions filed by Kerala-based parties seeking directions to ensure the safety of the 126-year-old dam.

The bench comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice C.T. Ravikumar noted, “The hearing of the case on December 10 will be subject to the completion of hearing in two other on-going part-heard matters.”

Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta, appearing for Kerala, submitted, “We are not focusing on emergency orders, though there were heavy rains, your lordships asked the supervisory committee to monitor. Now the rule curve issue is there, which needs to be settled.” To which, the bench said that it will be a matter for final adjudication.

Senior Advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, also agreed that immediate directions are not needed and the matter can be posted for final hearing.

Wills Mathew, counsel for petitioner Suraksha Public Charitable Trust, seeking termination of the lease agreement between the former Madras Presidency and the Travancore Kingdom, which was later continued by Kerala and Tamil Nadu, according to which the latter gets rights over water in the Mullaperiyar reservoir. Mathew submitted,

“Our intention is while Tamil Nadu should get water, the security concerns of people in Kerala cannot be overlooked.”

Whereas V.K. Biju, counsel appearing for the Periyar Protection Movement, sought directions to Tamil Nadu to furnish the seepage data relating to the dam. All the records are exchanged with Kerala on the weekly basis, the counsel appearing for Tamil Nadu informed the bench.

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The bench noted,

“We’ve heard the counsels. In all fairness, it’s submitted that there is no immediate direction needed at this stage. Instead, it is submitted that the main matter be proceeded expeditiously. We’ve no difficulty in acceding to request of expediting main proceeding.”

Earlier, Kerala had filed an affidavit disputing the rule curve adopted by the Supervisory Committee at Tamil Nadu’s suggestion. It stated that long-term solution to the problem was a new dam and to decommission the existing one. In response to it, the Tamil Nadu counter-affidavit asserted the 126-year-old dam was “hydrologically, structurally and seismically safe” by the Supreme Court and that it has been strengthened under the supervision of the Committee.

Tamil Nadu blamed Kerala for attempting to prevent raising the water level to 142 ft and are raising issues that have been fully addressed by experts from CWC. The matter has now been listed on December 10 for expeditious final hearing.

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