20 March 2021 12:43 PM GMT
The Supreme Court on Friday granted the liberty to serve on the Standing Counsel for the State of Kerala notice, in a plea filed seeking termination of lease deed between the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in relation to Mullaperiyar dam. A Bench led by Justice Khanwilkar will consider the plea filed challenging Kerala High Court's refusal to entertain plea filed seeking directions...
The Supreme Court on Friday granted the liberty to serve on the Standing Counsel for the State of Kerala notice, in a plea filed seeking termination of lease deed between the States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in relation to Mullaperiyar dam.
A Bench led by Justice Khanwilkar will consider the plea filed challenging Kerala High Court's refusal to entertain plea filed seeking directions to Kerala to serve notice of termination of lease deed on State of Tamil Nadu and initiate necessary steps for construction of 'protection wall' to contain damage that may be caused due to any distress to the dam.
The petitioner has stated that the Kerala High Court without appreciating the facts, dismissed the petitioner's plea saying that being an interstate dispute in distribution of water and safety of dams, it would be exceeding in its jurisdiction to entertain the plea.
The plea has stated that the lease deed in question was entered into between Maharaja of Travancore and Secretary of State for India in Council for 'Periyar Project' and was amended by successors of the original parties being States of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
According to the petitioner, the State of Kerala is landlord of the 8000 plus acres of land on which Mullaperiyar dam is situated, and in terms of the lease deed entered into with Tamil Nadu, Kerala, being the landlord has the right to terminate the lease with immediate effect if terms of lease deed are breached by the tenant.
The plea has stated that in case of Mullaperiyar dam, Tamil Nadu failed to carry out construction of evacuation tunnel at low level to make possible evacuation of water in event of distress to the dam, as prescribed mandatory in "Guidelines for preparing Operation and Maintenance Manual for Dams". Such failure on part of Tamil Nadu was therefore a breach of terms of the lease deed.
The plea further stated that such breach is also violative of Supreme Court's judgement in case of State of Tamil Nadu vs State of Kerala in 2014, where it was directed that certain maintenance and repair work had to be carried out on the dam in time bound manner to keep it safe. The Court had formed a Supervisory Committee, mandating that the Committee will permit Tamil Nadu to carry out further precautionary measures that may become necessary upon its periodic inspection of the dam in accordance with guidelines of Central Water Commission and Dam Safety Organisation.
According to the petitioner, the Supervisory Committee failed to carry out the specific works in time bound manner and mandatory guidelines of Central Water Commission and Dam Safety Organisation to construct a tunnel at lowest point. The Committee through its letter also confirmed that they haven't carried out mandatory works leading to conclusion that, by failing to construct the tunnel Tamil Nadu has breached terms of lease deed resulting in threat to life and property of people.
The petitioner has contended that State of Kerala failed to initiate any action to protect life, property, environment of its people by initiating construction of protection wall to stop water flow from oldest dam in event of a dam break.
According to the petitioner, major lapses on part of both states in adhering to covenants of lease and complying with Supreme Court's directions, has resulted in threat to life of almost 35 lakhs people on one side from Kerala. It has also resulted in threat to water requirements pf these people from 5 districts from other side Tamil Nadu, which requires effective monitoring, supervision, and preventive steps to ensure safety, security and welfare of people of both States.
The present petition has been filed by Advocate Shweta Garg, drafted by Advocates Sonu Augustine and DK Tiwari and settled by Advocate Wills Mathews.
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