The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down the Kerala law declaring the Mullaperiyar dam on the border of Tamil Nadu as ‘endangered’ and allowed the latter to raise the water level from 136 ft to 142 ft.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha appointed a three-member supervisory committee to allay the fears of the Kerala government (“though none exists”) that the masonry dam built in 1886 was in danger of collapse.
The committee will have representatives from the Centre and the two states and supervise the safety of the dam.
The team will make periodic visits to inspect the dam before and after the monsoon and take all necessary steps to keep the dam safe.
The Kerala government will allow Tamil Nadu to carry out repairs and take such other steps to ensure the safety of the dam, it said.
The dispute between the two states over the dam began in 1998 when Tamil Nadu wanted to raise the height of the water level and Kerala opposed to it.
The dispute came to the Supreme Court after being tried in the Madras and Kerala high courts.
The SC had earlier appointed a technical team, which found no danger to the dam. Later, the Kerala government passed the state Irrigation and Water Conservation Act, 2006. It had set up a dam safety authority effectively to prevent Tamil Nadu from raising the height of the dam. However, this has now been struck down by the SC. The Tamil Nadu government filed the suit in 2006 seeking permission to raise the level of the water and to strike down the Kerala law.