Kerala floods: Supreme Court orders water level in Mullaperiyar Dam to be maintained at 139ft

The Kerala government had said it had written to Tamil Nadu on Mullaperiyar dam, requesting controlled release of water without waiting for the water level in the reservoir to reach its full level.

india Updated: Aug 24, 2018 13:34 IST
The-controversial-Mullaperiyar-dam-in-Idukki-district-Kerala(File Photo)

The Supreme Court directed the Tamil Nadu government on Friday to ensure the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam is maintained at 139 feet, two feet below the permissible limit fixed by it, till August 31 keeping in view the unprecedented floods in Kerala.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justice AM Khanwilkar and justice DY Chandrachud considered the Centre’s submission that the sub-committee of the Mullaperiyar dam had met on August 23 and directed the Tamil Nadu government to ensure the water level is maintained at 139 feet.

The top court also told both states to cooperate and follow the directions of the panel on Mullaperiyar dam. The bench made it clear it would confine itself to the aspect of disaster management and said that the decision to lower the water limit in the dam has been taken in view of the devastating flood in Kerala.

The observation came after the Tamil Nadu government alleged that “it could be a part of a sinister design” to circumvent the top court’s decision fixing the water limit in the Mullaperiyar dam, located on the Western Ghats near Thekkady in Idukki district of Kerala on the Periyar river.

Tamil Nadu chief minister EK Palaniswami on Friday rejected Kerala’s “false and baseless” claims that excess water released from the Mullaperiyar dam had caused floods in Kerala, news agency ANI reported.

The Kerala government had told the top court on Thursday that the sudden release of water from the Mullaperiyar dam by the Tamil Nadu government was one of the reasons for the flood in the state that killed over 350 people and damaged property worth thousands of crores.

It had said that out of a total population of about 3.48 crore, more than 54 lakh or one-sixth of Kerala people had been directly affected by the floods.

Kerala resident Russel Roy had filed a plea seeking, among other things, a direction to Tamil Nadu to manage the water level in the dam as the floods in Kerala created a havoc.

The top court had earlier ordered the disaster management panel of the Mullaperiyar dam to urgently decide on lowering the water level.

The direction to consider reducing the water level up to 139 feet from the existing 142 feet has come after Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to his Tamil Nadu counterpart Palaniswami and sought a lowering of the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam in the interest of his state’s safety.

People riding on boats sail past houses submerged in floodwater in Kainakary village in the district of Alappuzha, Kerala. (Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

The Tamil Nadu government had opposed the plea, saying the current inflow of water into the dam was 20,000 cusecs and due to rains and it may not be possible to reduce the water level immediately.

The top court fixed the matter for hearing on September 6 and asked Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to file their responses in the meantime.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Aug 24, 2018 12:41 IST