Kerala defends in SC controversial law on Mullaperiyar row
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Last Updated: Tuesday, February 02, 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.


First Published: Tuesday, February 02, 2010, 20:25

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