Find ways to lower water level in Mullaperiyar Dam: SC to authorities

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New Delhi, Aug 16 (IANS) Observing that the flood situation in Kerala is “grave”, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked disaster management sub committee to sit with the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Friday to bring down the water level in Mullaperiyar Dam “so people do not live in constant fear”.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Indu Malhotra also asked the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments to co-operate with the NCMC to provide the displaced people adequate relief immediately.

The sub-committee constituted under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act of 2005 may suggest, before any release of water in downstream areas from Mullaperiyar Dam, “what measures can be taken to handle the disaster so that people ultimately do not suffer the catastrophe of the flood”.

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The decisions of the sub-committee regarding the water level of Mullaperiyar Dam will be implemented by Tamil Nadu and Kerala “immediately”, said the bench while asking the sub committee to submit the report by Friday before it.

The court was hearing a PIL filed seeking directions for management of water in the Mullaperiyar Dam reservoir and announcement of a disaster management plan in relation to the dam.

During the hearing, counsel appearing for Kerala government told the bench that water level of the Mullaperiyar Dam should be reduced to 139 feet.

On the other hand, Tamil Nadu told the apex court that inflow into Mullaperiyar Dam is 20,000 cusecs and because of rains, it may not be possible to reduce water level in the dam immediately.

“There is limited capacity to release water,” the Tamil Nadu government said.

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The counsel appearing for the Centre contended that the NCMC, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, met on Thursday and assured continued assistance to Kerala.

The case was mentioned before the bench for urgent hearing and it agreed to hear the plea on Thursday itself.

The petition filed by a Kerala resident Russel Joy also sought direction for Tamil Nadu to ensure proper management of water release from the Mullaperiyar Dam, so that no harm is caused to people living downstream from the dam.

The counsel appearing for Joy argued that about 100 people have lost their lives and more that 1,50,000 people have been rendered homeless due to floods in Kerala.

The petitioner’s advocate requested the top court for proper coordination between Tamil Nadu and Kerala to ensure protection of life and property of the people living in the downstream of the Mullaperiyar Dam.

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The plea sought direction to the Central government to convene a meeting of the Committee under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act to ensure high-level preparedness to face any disaster in relation to the Mullaperiyar Dam.

Tamil Nadu must ensure proper management of water release from the Mullaperiyar Dam so that no harm is caused to people living downstream from the dam, plea states.

The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 witnessed in the states have caused massive destruction, leaving 87 people dead, more than 80,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.

–IANS

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