Tamil Nadu rakes up another river water dispute

After initiating measures for raising the water level in Mullapperiyar dam based on the landmark Supreme Court verdict, Tamil Nadu has raked up another inter-state river water dispute with Kerala.

By T.k. Devasia

Published: Mon 12 May 2014, 11:30 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:52 AM

The Tamil Nadu government has dragged the state to the apex court by filing a fresh petition seeking excess water from Kabini River that Kerala has left unutilised. Even though the state was allotted 21TMC of water from Kabini by the Cauvery tribunal, it is using only 5TMC at present. The rest is given to Karnataka.

Tamil Nadu is now demanding a part of this water. Kerala has not been able to utilise its share fully since several projects proposed by the state to use the water to generate power are pending before the federal government, which is awaiting a final settlement of the Cauvery water dispute, which involves Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The other two states have been able to use their full share as they are lower riparian state. Being an upper riparian state, Kerala cannot start any new project that would be detrimental to the already established use of lower riparian states. Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been opposing the projects posed by Kerala citing this.

The only consolation for Kerala is that the Cauvery Tribunal does not confer any right on Tamil Nadu from the temporary arrangement over the use of unutilised water from the state’s share. Officials at the Water Resources Department said they would now press for clearance of its pending projects in the light of the fresh plea by Tamil Nadu.

The Tamil Nadu move has come five days after the apex court declared Mullapperiyar dam and allowed the state to raise the water level to 142 feet. Two days after the order officials from Tamil Nadu swung into action to raise the water level. They continued the process on Sunday by inspecting the dam for lowering the shutters of the spillway.

They need to lower the shutters of six spillways for raising the water level.

Meanwhile, Kerala Water Resources Minister P J Joseph has come down heavily on former Supreme Court judge K.T. Thomas, State’s representative in the Empowered Committee on Mullaperiyar, for welcoming the apex court’s verdict. Joseph told reporters at Trivandrum on Sunday that he had serious doubts about the sincerity of Thomas towards Kerala.

He pointed out that the former judge had opposed the plea for raising the water level beyond 136 feet in the empowered committee. “Having taken such a stand earlier, how can he welcome the verdict? This makes people suspect his actions,” Joseph said.

Justice Thomas said that he was not supposed to bat for Kerala since the committee in which he was put was a fact finding mission. Kerala had a separate counsel to argue the state’s case. He pointed out that the members of the committee had no doubt about the safety of the dam as it was vouched by experts.

He said he had also independently verified the claims regarding the safety of the dam from Dr K C Thomas, who was assigned to supervise the strengthening of the dam. Thomas, who is one of the most prominent dam experts in India, had told him that after strengthening Mullapperiyar had become as new as a new dam.

The former judge said he was not ready to change his stand for cheap popularity. “I am convinced over my stand and I will stand by it,” he added.


More news from WORLD