The Supreme Court on Thursday left to experts how much water can be safely stored in the Mullaperiyar dam and refused to give any direction in this regard to Tamil Nadu which owns and operates it to lower the level.
The first bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Kanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said it was for the National Committee for Crisis Management sub-committee to monitor the water level and consider reducing it to 136 ft from the present 142 ft.
At the same time, the court said the expert committees, while consultative meetings should consider bringing down the level at least to 139 ft and what steps should be taken to ensure that the water from the dam does not affect downstream inhabitants.
It extended by eight weeks its Aug 17 order asking the committee to monitor the water level to ensure the safety of the dam.
The bench passed this order on a petition filed by Russel Joy who alleged that the mismanagement of water release from Mullaperiyar was one of the causes for the floods in Kerala and pleaded for an international agency to assess the safety of the dam..
The CJI said:” This court is not an expert to issue any kind of guidelines to manage a situation of the present nature which we had taken note of in our earlier order. We intervened as we have protect the rights of citizens. But we cannot have control over acts of God”.
He asked counsel for Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the Centre:” If the States and the Centre can’t rise to the occasion and take steps to resolve the issue, what can we do? We will leave it the committee to take steps to ensure safety of the dam and to regulate the water release”.
The court adjourned the hearing after giving eight weeks time to the committee to monitor the water level.