In the case of Dr. Joe Joseph v. State of Tamil Nadu, the Tamil Nadu government informed the Supreme Court that the State of Kerala had persistently thwarted Tamil Nadu’s efforts to improve the Mullaperiyar dam. Significantly, the Tamil Nadu government notified the Supreme Court that the dam is secure and that there is no immediate need for such a new evaluation, as advised by the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the project’s Supervisory Committee in an affidavit filed before the Court on January 27.
The Dam shows no signs of distortion or irregularity. Furthermore, the dam’s silting is maintained to essentials. In the water year 2021-22, water was kept in the dam at a level of +142 ft. for around 18 days starting November 30, 2021, and all of the dam’s parameters were determined to be within regulations, according to Tamil Nadu’s statement.
As a result, the Tami Nadu government has indicated that the CWC/Supervisory Committee or its agents should be required to evaluate the Dam’s safety only after accomplishing the balanced reinforcement and maintenance works as instructed by the Supreme Court in 2006 and subsequently in 2014.
The Tamil Nadu government has thus recommended that the State of Kerala collaborate and arrange all appropriate help in a reasonable timeframe so that the residual strengthening and maintenance tasks can be concluded entirely during the next four months, from March to June 2022, before the monsoon season begins.
Previously, two legal battles over the issue were contested in front of the Supreme Court, both of which culminated in advantageous decisions for Tamil Nadu. The Court had been considering appeals from the Kerala government for the past several months to ensure that the water level in the Dam’s reservoir does not surpass 139 feet, which is three feet less than the allowable limit of 142 feet set by the Supreme Court’s 2014 order. At the time of the Kerala floods in 2018, the Supreme Court issued an interim order to keep the water level at 139 feet.
In October of last year, the Kerala government submitted a similar petition in response to the state’s persistent rains, which had resulted in a rise in the reservoir’s water level.
Later, the Kerala government filed a lengthy affidavit indicating that the 126-year-old dam is prone to flooding and should be decommissioned in favor of a new dam.
The affidavit stated that any breakdown of the Mullaperiyar Dam might cause the Idukki Dam downstream to fail and that the combined failure of the two dams would have a disastrous effect on the lives and possessions of 50 lakh people.
It further claimed that, in recent years, irregular rainfall patterns driven by climate change had resulted in instances of unexpected surges in the reservoir’s water levels.
The Tamil Nadu government responded by claiming that the Kerala government was bringing up the matter of safety to prevent the water level in the dam’s reservoir from being elevated to 142 feet, as required by the Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling.
The Court has emphasized, nevertheless, that it would not address the administration of the dam and water in the reservoir, and that all petitions and requests relating to the dam’s water management must first be presented to the Supervisory Committee, which was created by the Supreme Court in 2014.