The Supreme Court will hear the case concerning the safety of the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam on March 9.
A Bench led by Justice AM Khanwilkar adjourned the hearing on a request made by the Centre.
Recently, Tamil Nadu had filed an affidavit assuring that the dam was safe hydrologically and protected from earthquakes.
However, Kerala had informed the court that 70 per cent of the installed instruments for monitoring the safety and health of the dam were not working properly according to a Central Water Commission (CWC) report.
In 2019, the Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had reiterated the Centre's statement that the Mullaperiyar Dam was indeed safe but that the Centre did not have any objection towards the construction of a new dam near the existing site.
Constructed between 1887 and 1895, the 176-feet masonry gravity dam built at the confluence of Mullayar and Periyar rivers has been the centre of a long legal battle between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Though the dam and its catchment areas lie entirely in Kerala, the responsibility of its operation and maintenance lies with Tamil Nadu.
For Tamil Nadu, the Mullaperiyar dam and the diverted Periyar waters act as a lifeline for Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga, Dindigul and Ramnad districts, providing water for irrigation and drinking, and also for the generation of power in Lower Periyar Power Station.
However, Kerala's safety concerns regarding the stability of the 126-year-old dam in the event of a dam collapse have been the focus of disputes from 2009 onwards.
After the 1979 Morvi Dam failure in Gujarat which killed up to 15,000 people, safety concerns of the ageing Mullaperiyar dam's and alleged leaks and cracks in the structure were raised by the Kerala Government on several occasions.
A study conducted by The Centre for Earth Science Studies (CESS), Thiruvananthapuram, had reported that the structure would not withstand an earthquake above magnitude 6 on the Richter scale. The dam is situated in a seismically active zone.
Kerala's proposal for decommissioning the dam and constructing a new one has been challenged by Tamil Nadu.