Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday in the subject of the Mullaperiyar dam's safety, saying in the long term, the process of building a new dam must begin with consideration of the Mullaperiyar dam's safety.
The key issues, according to a bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Abhay S Oka, and Justice CT Ravikumar, are the height of the water level and storage level, water release, instrumentation modernization, and the reconstruction of an independent supervisory committee to look into these matters.
The remarks were made in a writ suit stressing the Supreme Court-appointed Supervisory Committee's inaction in overseeing the material and safety components of the Mullaperiyar Dam and advocating effective dam monitoring.
Gupta submitted before the bench that the nature of the dispute in this matter is dam safety, "Kerala is before Your Lordships arguing that the dam is not safe, safety depends on the height of the water. More volume of water is pressing against the dam, there is less space to hold the water."
"The expert committee constituted by the Central Government had suggested raising the water level in the reservoir which raises the dispute," Gupta added.
Arguing over the issue of instrumentation, Gupta submitted that this dam doesn't have seismicity technology at all that is to determine the temperature. "The Instrumentation is inadequate and what is there is not functioning," Gupta argued.
Gupta maintained that every dam has one peak per year, whereas Mullaperiyar has two peaks per year, which is unacceptable in a rule curve. This is the only dam in Tamil Nadu with two peaks, allowing the state to hold more water. The dam is subjected to maximum pressure twice a year.
Kerala does not wish to draw water from Tamil Nadu; the state has taken water demand into account, and Gupta stated that even after ensuring the dam's safety, their water demand will be met.
The bench will continue hearing the matter on March 24, 2022.
In its response to the Mullaperiyar dam safety issue, filed on March 21, 2022, the Kerala State Government requested a new review of the Mullaperiyar dam by an independent panel of experts comprised of qualified Engineers and experts in the respective fields of design, geology, hydrology, hydro-mechanical dam safety, construction and supervision, instrumentation, and seismicity, and stated that it should be conducted.
It has also sought guidance:
- Comprehensive Dam Safety Review Procedures should be followed in accordance with the January 2018 Guidelines for Dam Safety Inspection.
- The study's terms of reference, as well as the names and locations of the testing agencies, should be disclosed with the party states and approved by the Supervisory Committee.
- All testing and studies should be carried out to ensure that the dam is hydrologically, seismically, and structurally safe. The Committee shall make certain that the study is carried out with the participation of Kerala officers.
- The test study results and findings should be communicated with Kerala, and the Supervisory Committee should finalise them. It is necessary to guarantee that the investigation is completed within a reasonable time range.
The state of Kerala previously stated in its written submission to the Supreme Court that it is only concerned with protecting and keeping safe the lives and property of people in the downstream reaches of the river Periyar's river basin as it flows down the Western Ghats and meets the sea north of Cochin.