The latest response by the government of Karnataka comes after the Ministry of Environment deferred the grant of ToRs for the project, citing Tamil Nadu’s concerns.

Ktaka pushes for Mekedatu approval claims project does not need TN consentWikimedia Commons/Karthik Prabhu (CCBYSA 3.0)
news Dispute Monday, October 07, 2019 - 09:43

The government of Karnataka has once again written to the central government, stating that there is no need to obtain Tamil Nadu’s permission to construct a dam across the Cauvery river in Mekedatu, as per a Supreme Court order. 

The project aims to generate electricity and provide drinking water to parts of Bengaluru and Ramanagara districts. As per the verdict given by the Supreme Court in the Cauvery water dispute, no new structures must be constructed across the river without the consent of all the riparian states. Tamil Nadu is in opposition to the Mekedatu project because it will severely restrict water flow to the state and impact agriculture negatively.

According to Karnataka’s letter to the Centre dated October 4, the Cauvery Neeravari Nigama Limited responded to the observations of the Expert Appraisal Committee, which had opined that an amicable solution be arrived at between the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the Mekedatu dam after which the grant of Terms of Reference will be reconsidered. 

“…The question of amicable solution does not arise since the project gets qualified based on the merits,” read the letter by Karnataka, which urged the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to approve ToRs at the earliest.

The Karnataka government, as a response to the observation of finding an amicable solution, pointed to the clauses XIII and XVIII in the Supreme Court judgment dated February 16, 2018, which stated that there is no legal requirement for a state to take consent of other states to utilise its own water resources, even in the case of an inter-State river. 

Further, the letter also quoted a portion of an SC order which said that the central government is not duty-bound to obtain the permission of the other states while sanctioning any project of any of the riparian states. 

“…Though it may be fully desirable for all the states to know about the developments of the other states but neither the law on the subject requires that a state even for utilisation of its own water resources would take the consent of other riparian states in case of an inter-Stateriver,” the letter stated. 

Emphasising that the Mekedatu Balancing reservoir and drinking water project is essential not just to store water and regulate releases to Tamil Nadu but also to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and its surrounding areas, the government of Karnataka stated that it can take up the project on its own accord while complying with the order of the Supreme Court. 

This letter from Karnataka comes even as Tamil Nadu continuously opposed the construction of a new dam across Cauvery, stating that this would impact irrigation and agriculture in the state. 

Also Read: Explainer: What is the Mekedatu dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka?

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