Kerala moves Supreme Court against TN opening Mullaperiyar dam shutters at night

Kerala sought the court's instruction to assign a joint committee comprising the representatives of both the states to decide on the time and quantity of water that has to be released. File Photo

New Delhi: Kerala has moved a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a directive to prevent Tamil Nadu from releasing water from Mullaperiyar without notice and at night.

The petition was filed after Tamil Nadu repeatedly released water without advance warning, causing flooding of low-lying areas downstream the Mullaperiyar dam.

Kerala's move came ahead of a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice C T Ravikumar were to hear a bunch of petitions on the dam's safety on Friday.

The petition, filed through Kerala's standing counsel G Prakash, sought a Supreme Court order to Tamil Nadu against releasing water at night and causing hardships to those living downstream, besides a directive to the Supervisory Committee to ensure the implementation of the court's interim order.

Kerala has also sought the court's instruction to assign a joint committee comprising the representatives of both the states to decide on the time and quantity of water that has to be released.

The petition has detailed the hardships people have to undergo due to the opening of the dam at night. Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had written to his Tamil Nadu counterpart M K Stalin on the issue.

Idukki District Collector, too, had written to Theni District Collector demanding a six-hour notice to Kerala before releasing water from the reservoir. Additionally, Chief Secretary V P Joy, too, had written to his Tamil Nadu counterpart on the issue. The petition has pointed out all these communications.

Dam Safety Bill passed in Lok Sabha
The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the Dam Safety Bill, which came before it with amendments.

The Bill, meant for the surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of all specified dams in the country, was earlier passed by both the Houses of Parliament, but was referred back to the Lok Sabha after certain amendments were recommended.

It was passed in the Lok Sabha earlier in August 2019, and in the Rajya Sabha on December 2.

A provision to penalise States and individuals for not adhering to the statues of the Bill has been incorporated. The Bill has also envisaged the setting up of State committees and a National

Authority to ensure the safety of dams.

The Authority would be responsible for the upkeep and safety of dams situated in one state, but under the control of another one, like the Mullaperiyar dam.

The state committees and the National Authority should be formed within 60 days of passing the Bill.

TN opens shutters without warning again
Ignoring Kerala's repeated requests for advance warning, Tamil Nadu once again released water from Mullaperiyar without informing the state on Wednesday.

Nine shutters of the spillway were raised to 7,140 cubic feet of water a second at 6am. The water released from the dam inundated houses on the banks of the River Periyar. The shutters, barring one, was later shut.

The water level at Mullaperiyar was at 141.75 feet at 7am on Wednesday. Currently, 141 cubic feet of water a second was being released to Periyar through a shutter raised at 10 centimetres. Tamil Nadu has been taking 1,867 cubic feet of water per second to Vaigai dam.

Several residents of Manjumala Aattoram, Kadassikkadu and Kuruppu Palam had to vacate their houses due to flooding on Wednesday. They were able to take precautions since the water was released in the morning.

Of the nine shutters opened, Tamil Nadu shut three around 9am, and seven others later.

Meanwhile, the water level at Idukki reservoir showed a slight decrease to 2,401.38 feet at 7pm on Wednesday. The dam has been releasing 40,000 litres of water per second through a shutter at Cheruthoni. The orange alert issued has not been lifted.

Kerala drops compensation demand
Kerala dropped a move seeking compensation for residents whose houses were flooded from Tamil Nadu after water was released from Mullaperiyar without advance warning.

The petition prepared to be filed before the Supreme Court had included the demand for compensation, but it was dropped at the last moment.

The decision to drop the demand was made considering the scheduled meeting between the two states on the dam issue, it was learnt.

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