Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Precautionary Principle

In this post, I want to discuss about the ‘Precautionary Principle’, which is the basis of the New Dam offered by the State of Kerala. State of Kerala strongly defending our case for a New Dam before the Hon’ble Supreme Court and also before the Hon’ble Empowered Committee citing this principle, which advocates prevention is better than cure. As there is reasonable apprehensions about the imminent danger and the possibility of a dam failure of archaic Mullaperiyar dam, the State of Kerala should not take any chances with its people’s life, which it is duty bound to protect under the Constitution of this great nation.

The origin of the Precautionary Principle can be traced back to Germany in the 1970s with the Vorsogeprinzip. Translated as the ‘Foresight’ Principle, this broad principle is a philosophical approach to risk prevention by taking protective measures against specific environmental/safety hazards in order to avoid or reduce environmental/safety risks. This approach was subsequently adopted in various International agreements.

Precautionary Principle must be invoked:

·       Where the scientific evidence for safety is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain.
·        Where preliminary scientific evaluation suggests that effects on the environment, health or safety may be unacceptable and/or inconsistent with the chosen level of protection; and precautionary principle may be applied without waiting for the reality and seriousness of those risks to become fully apparent.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Litigation History

This blog post detail with the latest litigation started during 1997-98 and end in a Supreme Court judgment allowed Tamil Nadu to store water up to 142ft in Mullaperiyar reservoir. In the earlier arbitration litigation in 1930-40, Travnacore won the arbitration proceedings, where Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer himself argued before the Arbitrators and Umpire.


During 1997-98, A.G. Sojan, Devassia Joseph, and Sajan Kolath & Anthr filed writ petitions before the High Court of Kerala to reject the request of Tamil Nadu Government to raise the water level in Mullaperiyar reservoir from 136 ft. R. Sundaram, a Contractor from Tamil Nadu also filed a writ petition in Kerala High Court to issue directions to facilitate to carry out his work in respect of Mullaperiyar Dam. Meanwhile, similar petitions were filed in Madras High Court by Dr. Subramoniam Swamy, R.K. Ramachandran, Periyar-Vaigai Single Crop Cultivating Agriculturist Society and A. Suresh filed writ petitions before High Court of Madras to raise the water level in Mullaperiyar reservoir up to 152 ft.  Dr. Subramoniam Swamy filed a transfer petition before the Supreme Court of India on 5th August 1998 citing that there is a possibility of conflicting orders being passed by the High Courts and hence requested that the entire cases may be transferred to Supreme Court.

Mullaperiyar Dam - Technical Details

River Periyar originates from the Western Ghats in ‘Sundara Malai’ in the Sivagiri group of hills at an elevation of about 1830m above MSL. From its origin, it traverses through an immense cliff of rocks in a northerly direction receiving several rivulets in its course. About 48 Km downstream, the Mullayar joins the main River at an elevation of 845m above MSL and the River then flows westwards. About 11 Km downstream of the above confluence, the river passes through a narrow gorge. A dam was constructed at this gorge to intercept the flow and it got christened as ‘Mullaperiyar dam’, which received the above title from the rivers Mullayar and Periyar. The dam have a catchment area of 624 square kilometres, which lies completely inside Kerala territory.

The Mullaperiyar dam is having a length of 1200 feet and a height of 155 feet from the river bed and the height from the deepest foundation is 176ft. The front and rear faces of the dam are of uncoursed rubble masonry in lime, surki and sand mortar. The hearting is of lime surkhi concrete with 3.125 parts of stone and 1 part of mortar.  The proportion of lime surkhi mortar is 2 parts of lime, 1 part of surkhi and 3 parts of sand.The central core constructed with lime surkhi concrete occupies about 60% of the total volume of the dam. As part of the strengthening measures suggested an RCC capping was added to the top of the dam. Also a 10 m concrete backing was provided to the downstream side, but the joint between the old dam and the new dam remain ungrouted even though shear keys were provided.

Supplemental Agreements of 1970

Agreement Amending the Periyar Lease Deed of 1886
dated 29th May 1970

This Agreement is executed on this the twenty ninth day of May One thousand nine hundred and seventy BETWEEN the Governor of Kerala (hereinafter referred to as 'the Government of Kerala' which expression shall, where the context so admits, include his successors in office and assigns) of the one part and the Governor of Tamil Nadu (hereinafter referred to as 'the Government of Tamil Nadu' which expression shall, where the context so admits, include his successors in Office and assigns) of the other part.