|Says Central Water Commission had proposed for a new dam in 1979|
Producing photocopies of the documents signed by Tamil Nadu Special Officer for Inter-State Waters A. Mohanakrishnan in December 1979, the Minister said the Commission had indeed proposed a new dam 1,300 feet downstream of the present dam. He also produced copy of a location map of the new dam site prepared in 1979.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had questioned Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan's statement at a press conference in Delhi that the proposal for new dam had been made by the CWC.
Mr. Premachandran said the proposal for a new dam was one of the three main recommendations of the Commission. A joint team of officers from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, including Mr. Mohanakrishnan, who even now was serving the Tamil Nadu Government in the capacity of an advisor, had visited Mullaperiyar and located the site for the new dam. It was not clear from the records why the proposal had been abandoned subsequently. The Commission had proposed short-term and long-term measures for strengthening the dam in case the new one could not be built.
The Minister said the documents showed that the safety of the dam was in doubt as back as 1979. "And the new dam is not a new proposal."
Mr. Premachandran said Kerala had argued that the Periyar agreement was not valid in the detailed statement filed by it before the Supreme Court in the original petition filed by Tamil Nadu challenging the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act. The agreement became invalid on enactment of the Indian Independence Act. It, however, had validity on an annual basis until the country became a Republic in 1950.
Though there was no valid agreement, Tamil Nadu had continued to avail waters from Mullaperiyar. The Kerala Assembly had neither approved the Periyar agreement nor the subsequent supplementary agreement. The Assembly had the right to regulate the use of waters of its rivers in public interest. So, the Act, which specified maximum water level of 136 feet in the Mullaperiyar dam, was within the legislative jurisdiction of the State.
The State also said that a five-member Supreme Court Bench hear the matter, as constitutional issues were involved in the inter-State matter.
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