Karnataka has asked the Centre to clear its plan to build a dam across Cauvery in Mekedatu, contending that it does not have to get Tamil Nadu’s approval for it as the stored water can be used to meet its drinking water and irrigation needs and regulate release to Tamil Nadu as per the tribunal’s final order as modified by the Supreme Court.
Rejecting the Union Water Resources Ministry’s stand that it should reach an amicable solution with Tamil Nadu, Karnataka has said it can take up the project on its own accord while meeting water requirement of lower riparian States as per the tribunal’s award.
The Ministry’s expert committee on hydro-electric projects had on July 19 deferred a decision on granting Terms of Reference (ToR), advising Karnataka to reach an understanding with Tamil Nadu first. This followed protest by Tamil Nadu with Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami on July 10 writing to the Prime Minister not to clear the proposal without it concurrence.
The Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Ltd (CNNL) on Oct 4 asserted there question of an amicable solution does not arise “as the project gets qualified on its own merits”. The chief engineer has said the Mekedatu project is essential to store water and regulate releases to Tamil Nadu as per monthly schedule drawn up in the final award. It has also said the stored water is needed to meet the drinking water requirements of Bengaluru city and surrounding areas.
This will be consistent with the final award of the tribunal as modified by the Supreme Court, it has contended. In other words, it has said Karnataka can take up the project so long as it maintains the requirements of the award.
It has argued that excess release over and above the stipulated release at Billiguntlu gauging station are resulting in substantial flows going waste to sea.The construction of Mekedatu project will help in storing water in good monsoon years so that the regulation can be met in subsequent distress years.
As per the final award, any hydroelectric project can be built across Cauvery to store water provided the pattern of downstream releases are consistent with tribunal order so that the irrigation needs of lower riparian States are met. There is nothing in the order to impair the rights of a State to regulate use of water within its boundaries, it has contended.
THE DMK president M K Stalin has urged the Centre not to allow Karnataka to build the Mekedatu dam and reject the detailed project report.
Rejecting Karnataka’s contention that the project falls within its territory, Stalin has said the tribunal award has said no project should be allowed that will affect share of Cauvery of lower riparian States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Further, Karnataka should get the approval of the Cauvery Management Authority for any scheme, he has said.