The standoff between Kerala Water Resources Minister P.J. Joseph and Justice (retd) K.T. Thomas, a member of the apex court appointed expert committee that studied the safety of 119-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam, continues with the former reiterating that the latter was a state government nominee and should have stood up for its demand for building a new dam.
"The apex court only appointed Chief Justice (retd) A.S. Anand on the committee. Later Kerala and Tamil Nadu were asked to nominate one member each and that is how Thomas was appointed. He should have stood for the state's demand for a new dam in the wake of the reports from IIT Delhi and Roorkie that the dam is weak," Joseph told reporters here Sunday.
The apex court Friday had directed that the report of the expert committee, which studied the safety of 119-year-old Mullaperiyar Dam, be shared with Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The report, which has already been carried by the media, states that the dam is safe and the water level, now at 136 feet, could be raised to 142 feet as demanded by Tamil Nadu.
Thomas, meanwhile was peeved over Joseph's remarks and threatened to bring the minister's statement to the attention of the apex court.
"His statements were uncalled for. Has he seen the report before making remarks," asked Thomas.
Angry supporters of the 'Mullaperiyar Samara Samiti' Saturday marched towards Thomas' residence to protest his "betrayal" of the state's interests.
Kerala has for long been demanding the de-commissioning of the dam and building a new one.
Meanwhile, batting for Thomas, Minister for Rural Development K.C. Joseph said Kerala's demand was made loud and clear that the dam is weak and a new one has to be built.
"The present controversy over the apex court report is not fair, because the report has to be looked into not just in bits and pieces. The need of the hour is that no one should turn emotional, and marching towards someone's house is not fair. His stand is certainly not against Kerala," K.C. Joseph told reporters Sunday.
A five-judge apex court bench of Justice D.K. Jain, Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Deepak Verma, Justice C.K. Prasad and Justice Anil R. Dave would hear the case July 23, following the handing over of copies of the report of the expert committee to the two states.
The committee was set up in February, 2010 to study all aspect of the dam on the Periyar river, including its safety. The committee had submitted its report to the apex court April 25.