No, Supreme Court didn't ask to cut trees at Mullaperiyar, Oversight Committee did

By B Balagopal/ Mathrubhumi News

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has not given any direction to Kerala in the 2017 petition filed by Tamil Nadu to cut down trees to strengthen the Baby Dam in Mullaperiyar. However, the Mullaperiyar Oversight Committee had directed Kerala to permit cutting the trees.

In 2006, the SC directed to take steps to strengthen the Mullaperiyar Dam. A five-member constitutional bench of SC on May 7, 2014, reiterated it. They also agreed with the 2006 order that says the water level can be raised to 152 feet once the dam is strengthened. Citing both these rulings, the Tamil Nadu government in 2017 approached the SC seeking permission to cut the trees.

Kerala told the Supreme Court that the government cannot allow felling trees in leased land as per the laws passed by the state Assembly in 1972, 1980 and 1986. The case has never been listed in the SC for hearing ever since.

In an affidavit filed by Dr Jo Joseph in October 2020, the Tamil Nadu government itself has stated that their demand for tree felling is still under consideration.

Central Water Commission in 2015 had agreed to the arguments of Tamil Nadu. Also, the Oversight Committee of Mullaperiyar dam in 2020 had directed the state government to allow tree felling. The Kerala representatives who were present in the meeting said that the matter will be brought to the attention of the Union Forest Ministry.

In the February 2021 meeting, Kerala said the state forest department is confused regarding the criteria of deciding the trees to be felled. The Committee ordered a joint inspection of the officials of both states to finalise on the matter.

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