Kerala to approach Supreme Court over Mullaperiyar reservoir management

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy responding to notice for adjournment motion on MullaperiyarThiruvananthapuram: Kerala Water Resources Minister P. J. Joseph said in the Assembly on Tuesday that Kerala would be approaching the Supreme Court on the Mullaperiyar issue, pointing out the failure of the supervisory committee to manage the crisis.

The Minister was responding to notice for an adjournment motion given by E. S. Bijimol to raise a discussion on the issues surrounding the opening of the spillways of the Dam.

Mr. Joseph said that though the government had gone ahead with its plan to build a protective bund below the 120-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam to ensure the safety of the people of five districts, it could not proceed because the Centre had cancelled the permission granted for environmental impact assessment.

He noted that the IIT study on the Dam had shown that water could rise to 160 feet, overtopping the dam, if rainfall of 60 cm occurred in the catchment on a day. Such rainfall had happened in neighbouring Munnar.

Chief Minister said that Kerala had only the legal option as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had declined to attend a conference proposed by the Centre for discussions on the issue. However, he had again sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He would also be meeting the Union Minister for Water Resources Uma Bharati. “We have to work within the system,” Mr. Chandy said noting that he hoped to get national and international support for the State’s cause.

He said that though Tamil Nadu had agreed to inform the State 12 hours in advance of release of waters from the Dam, it was not done.  Tamil Nadu also did not increase the water it was drawing from the reservoir to avoid opening of the spillways.

Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan said that the State government was neglecting the issue. Not even one of the decisions taken at the all party meeting on Mullaperiyar was carried out.  The UDF government was responsible for the State losing its case before the Supreme Court.

He urged that the State should petition the National Human Rights Commission as lives of many people were under threat.

Ms. Bijimol said that the government was helpless and inactive in dealing with the situation. The facilities proposed for monitoring and risk management were not set up. The proposal mooted for international studies on the Dam too was not carried out.  Little was done to help the people affected by release of water through the spillways.

Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash maintained that the State Disaster Management Authority had taken steps to address the situation.