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Mullaperiyar Dam: SC Tells Centre To Set Exclusive Committee To Deal With Any Unpredictable Disaster

A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra directed the Centre to set up a committee exclusively to deal with any unpredictable disaster that would occur at the downstream of Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala.

The bench also directed the state of Tamil Nadu, owner of the dam, and Kerala, where the dam is located, to set up their own committees under respective state plans to work in co-ordination with central committee in case of any disaster.

The bench, also comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud, expressed hope that all three will work in harmony.

The bench reiterated the apex court’s 2014 verdict by five-judge bench with regard to the increase of dam’s height is binding on all.

It was hearing a petition filed by advocate Russell Joy who raised safety issue of the dam. He sought direction to the government to appoint an international agency to study the life span of the Mullaperiyar dam, built in 1895 between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

“The Centre shall have a separate committee for exclusively to deal with unpredictable disaster in the area near Mullaperiyar dam. State of Kerala will have a committee under state plan..,,” the bench said in its orders.

The bench, which had earlier sought Attorney General (AG) KKVenugopal’s assistance, has taken on record a certificate issued on January 11, 2018, by supervisory committee chairman Gulshan Raj. It was produced by the AG.

The bench recorded his submission that as per this court’s 2014 judgment, a supervisory committee was set up to monitor the dam related issues. The committee is to keep close watch on the safety of the dam.

The court disposed of 2016 petition after the AG referred to Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that the Central government has determined to see the safety of all dams in the country and implement the National Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Petitioner’s counsel Manoj V Goerge argued that people living downstream of the dam are under constant fear as the dam is 122 year old.

Referring to various studies, he said the life span of a dam, which is manmade, is only 50 years. The government has admitted that 196 dams in country are more than 100 year old.

People living near the dam are in direct line of a catastrophe that might arise from any breach in the dam.

According to the petition, the dam was constructed across the river Periyar using crude lime surki mortar, at a time when dam engineering was in its infancy as a composite gravity structure.

Even the engineers and builders of the dam envisaged the lifetime of the dam for a period of 50 years. It is a pertinent fact that the dam is having exceeded double the lifespan originally intended for it by its builders, as stated in the petition.

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