The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday posted for final hearing on July 19 a public interest litigation petition related to Pamba-Achankovil-Vaippar river link project envisaged in 1995 for producing 500 MW of power for Kerala and irrigating 91,400 hectares of land at Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts in Tamil Nadu.
A Division Bench of Justices A. Selvam and N. Authinathan adjourned the hearing by a month to facilitate the State of Kerala to engage a new lawyer as advocate G.R. Swaminathan, who was representing the State so far, wanted to withdraw his appearance in view of his impending elevation as a judge of Madras High Court.
The Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, National Water Development Agency (NWDA), the State of Kerala as well as Tamil Nadu government had already filed counter affidavits to the PIL petition filed by Mass Education and Action for Rural Development Society, an NGO based in Virudhunagar.
Filing a joint counter affidavit, the Centre as well as NWDA stated that the proposal for interlinking rivers was a policy decision of the governments and such decisions could not be questioned through writ petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution. It, however, agreed that a feasibility report was indeed prepared for the project in 1995.
Pointing out that the report was circulated to Kerala and Tamil Nadu governments, the Centre said that a detailed project report could be prepared only on receiving concurrence from both the States since Pamba and Achankovil were located in Kerala and Vaippar in Tamil Nadu. Though Tamil Nadu government had conveyed its concurrence, Kerala passed a resolution in its Legislative Assembly on August 6, 2003 opposing supply of water from Pamba and Achankovil to Tamil Nadu and urging the Centre to give up the project.
In its counter affidavit, the Tamil Nadu government impressed upon the need to divert the surplus water from Pamba and Achankovil for beneficial use in Vaippar basin.