New Delhi: The Kerala government on Monday informed the Supreme Court that a new Mullaperiyar dam to replace the existing one would not be taken up for construction without the consent and approval of the Tamil Nadu government.
Senior counsel Jaideep Gupta for Kerala made this submission before a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and Abdul Nazeer hearing a contempt petition filed by Tamil Nadu challenging the permission granted by the centre to Kerala for undertaking a study and approving the terms of reference for the new dam project.
Tamil Nadu had strongly objected to the approval contending that it amounted to contempt when the Constitution Bench in its 2014 judgment had clearly ruled out construction of a new dam. Any permission to study the proposal for a new dam would go against the spirit of the 2014 verdict.
During the resumed hearing, Mr. Gupta informed the Bench that the new dam would not be constructed without the nod and approval of Tamil Nadu as provided in the 2014 verdict. He said it was only a preliminary study undertaken by the state. Recording this submission, the Bench closed the contempt plea and disposed of the petition.
In its application, Tamil Nadu submitted that pursuant to the 2014 verdict, a meeting of the expert committee was held in June 2015 and it was recorded that the construction of new dam has to be in accordance with the 2014 verdict. But despite this, Kerala sent a proposal to the centre seeking environment clearance for the new dam project on the assumption that the existing dam is not safe and that it had outlived its purpose, which is not correct. The centre granted approval for the project study and the terms of reference for the project without taking consent from Tamil Nadu and thereby committed a contempt.
To a query, the centre informed the state government that approval of the terms of reference is only a preliminary step. No environmental clearance has been issued for the project. Hence, Tamil Nadu urged the court to issue contempt to the Kerala government as well as to the centre for approving the study.