Mullaperiyar dam | Photo: Sajan V Nambiar
New Delhi: The Kerala government has asked the Supreme Court that its 2014 judgment, permitting water level at the Mullaperiyar dam's reservoir to reach 142 feet, should be reviewed by a larger bench of the apex court.
In its written submissions, filed through senior advocate Jaideep Gupta, the Kerala government said the state has witnessed excessive and erratic rainfall and disastrous floods during the monsoon season of four consecutive years from 2018-2021, particularly in the Idukki district where the Mullaperiyar dam is situated.
"It is now accepted world over..... climatic conditions are changing. In 2021, the state of Uttarakhand faced a dam disaster known as Chamoli disaster at the Tapovan dam site. In these times of environmental change, no amount of rejuvenation can perpetuate a 126-year-old deteriorated dam that now exists at Mullaperiyar. Merely carrying out strengthening measures would not be sufficient," it said.
The Mullaperiyar Dam, situated on Kerala's Periyar River, supplies water to five districts of Tamil Nadu. Kerala has maintained that the dam is unsafe, but Tamil Nadu has vouched for its safety.
The state government submitted that the only permanent solution for removing the eternal threat of damage to the dam is to build a new dam in the downstream reaches of the existing dam. The state government had earlier told the top court that the dam is made of lime and surkhi concrete and no amount of rejuvenation can perpetuate its life.
In 2014, the top court had held that the dam was safe and that the water level in its reservoir can be permitted to go up to 142 feet. "It is necessary that the judgment of 2014 be now comprehensively reviewed, if necessary, by a larger bench of this court," said the state government in its written submissions.
"The state of Kerala is only concerned with protecting and keeping safe the life and properties of the people in downstream reaches of the river basin of the river Periyar as it flows down the Western Ghats and meets the sea north of Cochin. It is the accepted position that in the event of the dam being damaged for any reason, vast stretches of land and millions of people of the State of Kerala will be threatened," it added.
The Kerala government said the purpose of seeking a resolution to the disputes between the two states is to ensure the safety of life and property in Kerala, without depriving Tamil Nadu of water for power, drinking and irrigation purposes in any manner.
In the past few months, the top court has been hearing applications by the Kerala government to ensure that the water level in the dam's reservoir is not allowed to exceed 139 feet, three feet below the permissible limit of 142 feet.