Don’t clear any project on the river till the water sharing dispute is legally settled, urged CM Palaniswami.

Cauvery dispute rears up again TN CM urges Centre against Karnatakas Mekedatu project Image for representation only
news Cauvery Dispute Thursday, July 06, 2017 - 15:46

The Cauvery water row between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu took another turn on Wednesday, with TN Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami voicing opposition to Karnataka's Mekedatu project. 

TN CM Palaniswami shot off a letter to the Centre on Wednesday, asking Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti not to give clearance to the Mekedatu project proposed in the Cauvery basin, till the inter-state dispute on water sharing is settled legally. 

The move comes days after the Karnataka government submitted a Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the Mekedatu project to the Central Water Commission (CWC).

In his letter, CM Palaniswami claimed that Karnataka's application for clearance was in violation of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal's (CWDT) last order. 

“I request you to kindly issue instructions to the officials concerned not to accord techno-economic clearance to Mekedatu or any project in the Cauvery basin till the concurrence of all the co-basin states is obtained,” the CM's letter says. 

The Karnataka government has sought technical clearance from the Centre without obtaining the concurrence of the Tamil Nadu government, Palaniswamy wrote.

Palaniswamy also recalled an earlier letter he had sent Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February this year, asking the PM to issue instructions to the CWC not to clear the project. 

The February letter was sent following media reports that Karnataka was planning to build a reservoir at Mekedatu. The Karnataka government had "unilaterally" made the decision to do so, the letter had pointed out. 

What is the Mekedatu project? 

The Karnataka government has proposed to build a balancing reservoir (used to maintain relatively uniform water levels) across the Cauvery basin, at an estimated cost of Rs 5,912 Crore. It was first proposed in 2003. Mekedatu is around 110 km from Bangalore. 

With a capacity of 66 tmcft, the multipurpose project will generate power and drinking water for the city of Bengaluru and its adjoining areas. 

Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited submitted the DPR of the project to the Centre on June 7 and its senior officials had told the media that the work would commence soon after the Centre gives nod. 

 With the Cauvery water sharing dispute already straining ties between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the latter has vehemently opposed the Mekedatu project on the grounds that the project will disrupt the flow of Cauvery water to TN. 

However, Karnataka's irrigation minister M B Patil had countered this argument and said: "The project does not violate the Cauvery Water Tribunal Award, which allows us to use 190 tmc ft of the river water and generate around 400 MW power from it."

Despite Karnataka’s assurance that only extra water, after meeting the supply requirements to TN, will be used for the project, the TN government has been consistently opposing it.