Kerala defends in SC controversial law on Mullaperiyar row

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - 20:25

New Delhi: Kerala on Tuesday defended in the
Supreme Court its controversial legislation on Mullaperiryar
dam row and said Tamil Nadu neither had any riparian nor
Constitutional right to challenge the law.

Commencing the arguments for the state before a
Constituion Bench, senior counsel Harish Salve said
Mullaperiyar river rises and flows in Kerala alone before
culminating in the sea and as such Tamil Nadu cannot claim any
riparian rights over it.
Earlier, in 2007, the apex court had passed a judgement
in favour of Tamil Nadu by allowing it to raise the water
level from 136 feet to 142 feet at the century-old
Mullaperiyar dam which, though located in Kerala`s Idduki
district, caters to the drinking and irrigation needs of Tamil
Nadu.

Kerala subsequently brought a legislation to overcome
the Supreme Court judgement by restraining Tamil Nadu from
raising the height beyond the 136 feet on the ground that it
posed a threat to the safety of its people as the dam,
according to it, has outlived its durability. It had offered
to construct an alternative dam to which Tamil Nadu is
opposed.

The Constitution bench comprising Justice D K Jain, B
Sudershan Reddy, Mukundakam Sharma, R M Lodha and Deepak
Verma was constituted since it involved important
Constitutional questions relating to a state`s power to enact
a legislation reportedly circumventing the apex court`s
judgement.

Salve argued Kerala had every right to formulate a law to
regulate the water level of the dam as it was located within
the state.
He claimed it was purely "an intra-state" law about which
Tamil Nadu had no right to complain or move the apex court.
The counsel submitted the Supreme Court cannot intervene in
the dispute as the state derived its power under Article 245
of the Constitution.

Under Article 245 of the Constitution, Parliament may
make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India
and the Legislature of a State may make laws for the whole or
any part of the State.

He further contended that Kerala was only regulating
the water level in the interests of it people`s safety and not
in any manner stopping supply of water to Tamil Nadu.

The arguments would resume tommorrow.

Besides, the Constitutional validity of the legislation,
the Constitution bench has also decided to sift through the
voluminous documents submitted by the two states in support of
their contentions for and against continuance of the dam.

Kerala, apart from restricting the water level, has also
simultaneously obtained an environmental clearance from the
Ministry of Environment for constructing a new dam by
demolishing the existing one, which has been challenged in the
apex court by Tamil Nadu.

PTI




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