Karnataka is readying itself to wage a legal battle in the Supreme Court against Tamil Nadu's ambitious Cauvery-Vellaru-Vaigai-Gundar river linking project, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Basavaraj Bommai said here on Friday.
Last week, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E. Palaniswami had laid the foundation stone for the Rs 14,400 crore, 262 km river-linking project, which will divert 6,300 cubic feet of surplus water during floods and increase the groundwater levels in the state's southern districts to meet drinking water needs.
Addressing mediapersons after a series of meetings with legal experts and concerned officials along with Major and Medium Irrigation Minister Ramesh Jarakiholi here, Bommai asserted that Tamil Nadu's inter-linking river project is against the interests of Karnataka, and the state government will oppose it strongly in all fora.
"Tamil Nadu is trying to utilise surplus 45 Tmcft of water. This is against Karnataka's interest. As there is no legal provision to utilise this surplus water, hence Tamil Nadu's project itself is illegally conceived," he said.
He added that surplus water has not been shared between the states officially or legally, so taking up the project in such a situation is not right.
"This project is not in accordance with the Interstate River Water Disputes Act. According to the Act, surplus water should also be adjudicated and the tribunal has to decide on it. So this project is against the law. Therefore, this is a fit case to oppose in the apex court," Bommai said.
He alleged that it has been proved beyond doubt in many cases in the past that Tamil Nadu has been acting in a prejudiced manner for over 400 years.
Jarkiholi also asserted that Karnataka has decided to respond legally and politically to Tamil Nadu's river linking project.
Bommai further alleged that Tamil Nadu had started the Hogenakkal project without taking any permission, and now they have launched the Cauvery-Vellaru-Vaigai-Gundar linking project.
"Surplus water needs to be shared between the states, this is the fundamental principle. Whatever they are doing is against this principle, as they are indicating their claim over surplus water. We strongly oppose and condemn this and have decided to fight it legally," he said.
The minister further said that Tamil Nadu had objected when Karnataka sought allocation for a drinking water project for Bengaluru, besides opposing several projects in the Cauvery basin, including plans to modernise or repair a 300-400 year-old dam and carry out modernisation of canal projects that are in bad condition.
Rebutting both the opposition parties' allegations, Bommai said that there was no delay in taking action against the Tamil Nadu project. "Where is the question of going soft on Tamil Nadu? Protecting our state's interests is paramount for us. They may have elections or some other compulsions, but that cannot come in the way of protecting our interests. Opposition parties are levelling baseless allegations," he said.