The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre and the state governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to avoid addressing the flood situation in an adversarial manner, PTI reported. The top court directed the officials to find out ways to reduce the water level at Mullaperiyar dam on the Periyar river to 139 feet, Bar & Bench reported.
The water level at the dam reached 142 feet, the reservoir’s maximum capacity, on Wednesday. The water level touched 142 feet once again on Thursday morning. “An effort has to be made to bring down the water level of the Mullaperiyar dam to 139 ft so that the people living downstream should not live in constant fear,” the court said, according to PTI.
The court was hearing a petition urging it to issue directions on water management at the dam. Though the dam is located in Kerala, it is operated by Tamil Nadu.
Calling the flood situation in the state grave, the Supreme Court ordered a sub-committee, constituted under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act, along with National Crisis Management Committee to hold a meeting with authorities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The sub-committee has to frame a disaster management plan and submit it to the court on Friday.
The petitioner, Russel Joy, asked the court to direct the Centre to convene a meeting of a committee under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, to ensure “high-level preparedness” to face any disaster in relation to the Mullaperiyar dam. The committee must prepare and make public a disaster management plan, he added.
The petitioner also urged the top court to ask the Tamil Nadu government to ensure that water released from the dam does not affect people living downstream. The chief secretary must also ensure hourly monitoring of the situation, he added.
‘No threat to safety of Mullaperiyar dam’: Tamil Nadu CM
On Twitter, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami shared a letter addressed to his Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan in response to his request for Tamil Nadu’s intervention. “The dam is safe to store water up to 142 feet,” Palaniswami said. “Therefore there is no threat to the safety of the dam. The Tamil Nadu government has been transferring water from the dam to the Vaigai basin to the maximum extent possible.”
On Wednesday, Vijayan requested Palaniswami to intervene and reduce the water level at the dam to 139 feet. After the water level at the dam reached 142 feet on Wednesday, the Tamil Nadu government was forced to open the dam’s 13 shutters for the second time in a span of 12 hours.
The Tamil Nadu chief minister said engineers from both states were coordinating on the matter while highlighting that Kerala was not allowing his officials to measure rainfall in the catchment area. Palaniswami asked his Kerala counterpart to ensure that the necessary information was shared.
Palaniswami also asked Vijayan to ensure the restoration of power supply to the dam as Tamil Nadu had cleared its dues to the Kerala State Electricity Board.