Kerala to file review petition in Apex Court in Mullaperiyar verdict

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Wednesday decided to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against the latter’s verdict striking down a state act restricting the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam at 136 feet, said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

Addressing reporters here after the weekly cabinet meeting, he said that it was most unfortunate that such a verdict has come and it had been have decided to file a review petition before the same bench.

He said an all party meeting would be called to discuss what needs to be done.

“Kerala’s demand for a new dam was just and our policy all through was water for Tamil Nadu and safety for Kerala. This dam has done service for more than 119 years and a new dam has to come either today or tomorrow.

“The people in the dam area say they want it now and it was a fair demand because they are living in fear. Anyway Kerala has never ever whipped up passion in this issue and it will continue to maintain calm and we as a government will do everything to soothe the feelings of the people living in and around the dam,” said Chandy.

In his initial reaction when the verdict came out, Chandy had said it was unfortunate that the Supreme Court did not consider safety of the people in the state.

An apex court constitution bench headed by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, while striking down the Kerala Irrigation Water Conservation Act, said that the water level could be increased to 142 feet.

As soon as the verdict came out, people living in and around the dam near Idukki district expressed their resentment and called for a statewide shutdown Thursday.

“We expect all political parties to cooperate with our move to call for a shutdown to protest against the verdict,” said Joy Nirappel, who heads the Mullaperiyar Action Council.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front in Idukki district has decided to join the shutdown, while the Communist Party of India-Marxist decided not to take part in it.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been at loggerheads over the Mullaperiyar dam, built under an 1886 pact between the then Maharaja of Travancore and the erstwhile British Raj.

While the dam is located in Kerala, its waters serve Tamil Nadu. Kerala is seeking a new dam and has offered to build and fund it but Tamil Nadu has not agreed to this and has been engaged in a long and protracted legal battle that came to an end Wednesday.

Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan said that through the judgement, the fears of 3.5 million people living in five districts in Idukki, Pathanamthitta, Kottayam, Ernakulam and Alappuzha will rise as the safety of the dam is in serious doubt.

“The Kerala assembly had unanimously passed an act to this effect and it appears that both the centre and the apex court have not given it much seriousness. I wish that the state government immediately calls a special session of the assembly to discuss this burning issue,” he said.

Former state water resources minister N.K.Premachandran said the verdict was similar to what the division bench of the apex court had delivered in 2006 and this clearly means that the bench that gave the verdict Wednesday has not gone through the numerous reports and documents that was placed before them from 2006 till now.

“This is just a one sided report,” said Premachandran who was the minister from 2006 to 2011 in the Achuthanandan government.