Pinnacle Court says Mullaperiyar dam matter not adversarial, parties should assist in identifying core issues

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The Top Court today said that the litigation pertaining to the 126-year-old Mullaperiyar dam is not adversarial as this is a PIL in the sense that safety, security, and health issues of the people staying around the dam are involved in the matter. A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar told the advocates appearing for the respective parties in the matter that they should assist it in identifying the core issues which need to be addressed by the court.

Mullaperiyar dam was built in 1895 on the Periyar river in the Idukki district of Kerala. The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar, noted that advocates appearing in the matter have agreed to have a joint meeting to identify the core issues that need to be addressed by the top court in these proceedings.

“The safety of the dam is related to the management of the water level. A committee has already been formed for that... We are not here to do the administration of the dam,” Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, heading a Bench also comprising Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, said.

The court said it was, however, concerned about the safety, security and health of the people living in the vicinity of the dam. The Bench said it was, hence, willing to examine the dam strictly on a statutory basis and would not dabble in the administration of the dam, which was the job of the committee.

The court had said it was up to the supervisory committee to consider the need for the release of water from the dam and when or how it should be released.

“Political statements are being made here and such statements cannot be made in court. Let there be a dispassionate approach. Applications cannot come here on a daily basis. This is all generated by somebody’s ingenuity,” Justice Khanwilkar had remarked.

The bench ordered the advocates to submit their written notes by February 4 and has listed the case for further hearing in the second week of next month.

The two states have been involved in a dispute as Kerala has called for a new reservoir to be constructed citing structural problems with the Mullaperiyar dam.