Thursday, February 18, 2010

SC decision a shot in the arm for Kerala

18 Feb 2010

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Supreme Court decision to set up a five-member empowered committee to sort out the Mullaperiyar Dam issue comes as a victory of sorts for Kerala as the Court has finally agreed to set aside the Central Water Commission report that went against the state in raising the water level of the dam.

This also means that the state can now submit fresh evidence, documents and studies from various IITs on the safety of the dam, which will now be examined by the empowered committee in detail.

The IIT Delhi report on floods and the IIT Roorkee report on earthquakes will now be considered by the panel.

The provision to submit new reports will also give an opportunity to Kerala to go in for a detailed Dam Break Analysis report by experts from either IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur or IIT Roorkee.

The State Cabinet had already okayed such a study.

The committee has also been asked to look into all matters pertaining to the Mullaperiyar dam such as sharing of water and power and not restrict itself to issues raised before the Supreme Court. This effectively means that Kerala can bargain for an equitable share of water and power from this dam.

The constitution of the empowered committee is also advantageous to Kerala as it has said that the two technical members in the panel should be experts not connected with the dispute. This would also technically mean that the members of the CWC could not be members of this high powered committee.

The panel will be headed by a Supreme Court judge.

Another factor that has added to the confidence of the state team is that it has been able to convince the apex court on the non-viability of the proposal of letting water from Mullaperiyar flow into Idukki. They argued that after 1979, at least at six instances, both Idukki and Mullaperiyar had filled up to capacity and once the water volume crossed the 68 tmc limit at Idukki, the water had to be released.

The Kerala team was also able to convince the Court that Tamil Nadu had used more water even after lowering the water levels and that there was more irrigation in Tamil Nadu after lowering the water levels in the dam.
Indian Express Reports

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