Whipping up emotions on report unfortunate: Thomas

Kottayam: Member of the Supreme Court appointed Empowered Committee on Mullaperiyar Dam Justice K T Thomas today said it was unfortunate that some quarters had sought to politicise and whip up emotions on the panel`s report, instead of looking at it rationally.

"Those who are finding fault with the report are doing so without understanding its contents fully.In a matter like this emotion should not get precedence over reason," Justice Thomas, the nominee of Kerala on the panel, told PTI.

In its report submitted to the apex court recently, the panel had said the Mullaperiyar Dam was safe and also asked the Kerala government to reconsider its proposal to build a new reservoir.

Locked in a bitter row over the 116-year-old dam, Kerala is insisting on construction of a new dam to replace the existing structure to which Tamil Nadu is strongly opposed, saying interests of its farmers would be affected.

On criticism by Kerala Water Resources Minister P J Joseph that Thomas had done injustice to Kerala by endorsing the studies which found the dam as safe, the former Supreme Court judge said this showed that the critics had failed to fully understand contents of the report. "I accepted that the dam is safe. This I endorsed based on studies by dam experts. So I did not append a dissenting note on that," he said.

"At the same, I have been able to make the majority of the panel to accept the alternative proposal of Kerala for building a new dam. However, building a new dam will have to cross several hurdles.It would take several years to complete."

Justice Thomas said his dissenting note had strongly stated that the water level should not be raised beyond 136 feet, which had been Kerala?s stand against Tamil Nadu`s demand for raising the water level to 142 feet.

Voicing concern over taking a parochial view on matters like Mullaperiyar, Thomas said, "I am a person who look at India as one nation and believe that all Indian states should be treated equally. When we look at issues like Mullaperiyar, honesty and objectivity are essential. This has been the lesson I have learnt as a judge ."

"When the panel endorsed the view that the dam is safe, it should actually bring relief to Kerala.If the panel took the stand that the dam is not safe, what would have been the consequences in both Kerala and Tamil Nadu," he said.

He said when a committee submits its report, the apex court may accept some of its recommendations and reject some others. It is for the Supreme Court to say the final word on it. "What Kerala should do is to argue its case in the Supreme Court by engaging a good lawyer," he added.