The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it did not want to get into the administrative matters related to the Mullaperiyar dam, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar urged the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments not to treat the case as an adversarial litigation. The court said that its main objective of hearing the case was to ensure the safety of people living downstream of the dam. The judges also said that an expert committee will look into matters like water-level management and seepage from the dam.

The bench asked the stakeholders, including the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments, to finalise the core matters that the court needed to address, The Hindu reported. The court noted that lawyers for the parties to the case have agreed to hold a meeting for this purpose.

The bench has asked the lawyers to submit their written notes by February 4, and has listed the case for further hearing in the second week of next month.

The Mullaperiyar dam is situated in the Idukki district on the Periyar River in Kerala. However, it is managed by the Tamil Nadu government.

The Kerala government had earlier filed an application alleging that the Tamil Nadu government was releasing water from the dam in the middle of the night without warning. The court, however, asked the two state government not to approach it for every matter regarding the dam, and to not use the court as a platform to score political brownie points, according to The Hindu.

The dispute

The two states have been involved in a dispute as Kerala has called for a new reservoir to be constructed citing structural problems with the Mullaperiyar dam.

Kerala has also proposed that the water level of the 126-year-old dam should be reduced to 138 feet. Tamil Nadu, however, wants the levels to be raised to 152 feet, claiming that the Mullaperiyar dam would be able to take on the additional pressure. The Supreme Court had fixed the water level at 142 feet in 2014.

In November, the Tamil Nadu government had told the Supreme Court that a social media campaign was being run against the dam, and that it was hydrologically, structurally and seismically safe.