Mullaperiyar case: TN free to raise water level to 142 ft as per interim SC order

Mullaperiyar Dam

New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India on Monday has said that all matters related to the Mullaperiyar Dam case would be considered together and posted the next hearing on December 10. As a result, the interim order issued by the court on October 28 to maintain the water level suggested by the Mullaperiyar Dam Supervisory Committee would continue to be in force and Tamil Nadu can increase the water level in the dam to 142 feet from November 30.

The apex court deferred the Mullaperiyar case to December 10 in order to complete the hearing of two other cases.

Last month the Supreme Court ruled the water level at Mullaperiyar Dam should not exceed 139.5 ft until November 11. The apex court was hearing pleas seeking directions for supervising the water level at the century-old dam. Kerala had been contending the rule curve of 142 ft set by Tamil Nadu.

The maximum storage level in the dam is 142 ft.

(A rule curve or rule level specifies the limit to which water which can be maintained in the dam every 10 days in a bid to control flood.

If the water level exceeds the limit set by the rule curve, the water from the dam will have to be released.)

Safe limit

Mullaperiyar Dam's safety is linked to the water level. According to a Supreme Court verdict, the water level should not exceed 142ft. Kerala has been arguing against holding water beyond the 137 ft level. Tamil Nadu, however, has been advocating to increase the water level to 152ft after strengthening the dam. Studies were commissioned at Kerala's behest to know the situation if the water level is increased to 152ft.

Kerala not in a hurry

Kerala’s counsel Jaideep Gupta informed the court on Monday that the state was not seeking an immediate order from the court as the necessary directives had been issued by the Dam Supervisory panel. However, he said Kerala hoped that the court would address its concerns regarding the rule curve suggested by Tamil Nadu.

Subsequently, Kerala argued for a final order on the case from the court. This argument was supported by Shekhar Naphade, who represented Tamil Nadu.

Cancel agreement’

Meanwhile, Wills Mathew, who appeared for Suraksha Charitable Trust, urged the court to cancel the old Mullaperiyar agreement by which Tamil Nadu can divert water.

“Tamil Nadu should get water and Kerala safety,” he told the court.

Plea for reliable seepage data

V K Biju, the Periyar Valley Protection Movement’s advocate, sought the court’s intervention to make available data regarding seepage from the dam.

“The apex court had issued an order in this regard when the case was considered last time,” he said.

Replying to Biju, Tamil Nadu’s advocate informed the court that weekly communication was issued on seepage by his state. But Biju pointed out that the seepage data was being prepared by Tamil Nadu engineers alone at present. “The data will be reliable only if authorities from Kerala are also involved in the process,” argued the Periyar Valley Protection Movement’s lawyer.

In its order postponing the hearing, the bench comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice C T Ravikumar said that all details will be available when the case is considered next time. All parties also agreed with the court’s observation that the case need not be prolonged by issuing urgent notices.

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