A Supreme Court bench consisting of Justices Khanwilkar and C.T.Ravikumar today asked the Supervisory Committee of the Mullaperiyar Dam to determine the appropriate water level to be maintained in it during flood situations and posted the matter for further hearing on October 27.
The court was hearing Advocate Willis Mathews on a writ petition which highlights the inaction of the Supervisory Committee appointed by the Supreme Court for taking care of material and safety aspects of Mullaperiyar Dam and urging the proper monitoring of the dam.
The petitioner urged that the matter needs urgent consideration, on account of heavy rains in Kerala in the last week, as 50 lakh lives are at stake.
Advocate G Prakash appearing for the state of Kerala submitted that the court had passed an order on August 24, 2018, during the Kerala floods directing the state of Tamil Nadu not to raise the water level beyond 139.9 feet. Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta who was also appearing for Kerala stated that the order has already been made available to the bench through the court master.
Senior Advocate Krishna Murthy, on the other hand, appearing for the state of Tamil Nadu submitted that as of this morning the water level at the dam is at 137 feet.
The bench then enquired ASG Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the committee for her instructions on the water level. The ASG informed the court that she had no instructions in this regard and sought time to seek instructions.
The bench noted that the issue requires immediate consideration and that the committee needs to decide on this as soon as possible.
At this point Gupta asked the bench to direct the state of Tamil Nadu to maintain the water level at 137 till the time the matter comes up for hearing next. Krishnamurthy however submitted that the IMD has not predicted any rains for the next 4-5 days and hence the court may not pass any such directions since it will have other repercussions.
The bench at this point opined that they may not be able decide anything sitting in the court since the Committee is a group of experts. The bench then directed that the respective authorities to interact urgently and further asked the Committee to decide on the issue of water level immediately considering the large number of lives at stake.
The state of Kerala was asked by the bench not to debate on the issue before the court as if it is a political arena. The bench noted that it is the inaction of authorities on both the sides that has led the court to interfere in the issue, at this juncture, and adjourned the matter.
Cause Title: Dr.Joe Joseph & Ors vs State of Kerala)
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