The Karnataka government first proposed the idea of a reservoir at Mekedatu on the river Cauvery in 2013. Five years later in 2018, the issue has created a fresh spat with Tamil Nadu.

Mekedatu dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka A timeline of eventsWikimedia Commons/ Karthik Prabhu/ CCBYSA3.0
news Mekedatu Friday, December 07, 2018 - 16:41

Even as the Tamil Nadu government has gone hammer and tongs at Karnataka over the Mekedatu dispute with a special Assembly session passing a resolution seeking a restraint on the reservoir-cum-drinking water project, tensions between the two states have begun heating up once again. The fresh debate over the Mekedatu project comes months after the February 2018 Supreme Court verdict on Cauvery that settled the centuries-long dispute over river water-sharing. With a new crisis looming between Karnataka, the upper riparian state and Tamil Nadu, the major lower riparian state, TNM presents a timeline of events:

August 2013: Karnataka Law Minister TB Jayachandra of the Congress announces the construction of Rs 5,912 crore multi-purpose balancing reservoir project over the Mekedatu, located about 100 km from Bengaluru, at the Kanakapura taluk in Karnataka‚Äôs Ramanagara district.

With a capacity of 66 tmcft, the project intends to generate hydro-electricity as well as provide drinking water for Bengaluru and Ramanagara districts.

September 2013: Then Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa writes to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, raising objections to the project.

Stating that the project was in violation of the Supreme Court-ordered Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa cautioned over the potential damage to irrigation and agriculture in Tamil Nadu. Requesting the Central government not to grant permission or environmental clearance for the project, the Tamil Nadu government also filed an interlocutory application in the apex court, in an attempt to restrain the government of Karnataka from executing the Shivanasamudra and Mekedatu projects.

April 2014: In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, a reported statement of then Karnataka Energy Minister DK Shivakumar stoked controversy after he reportedly claimed that the Karnataka government had decided to drop the Mekedatu project in order to avoid a ‚Äėlegal tangle‚Äô with Tamil Nadu.

However, the Minister issued a clarification, acknowledging that Karnataka will be unable to implement the project, without a nod from Tamil Nadu. ‚ÄúWe will not compromise on the interests of Karnataka on the Cauvery water issue including the Mekedatu hydel project,‚ÄĚ Shivakumar had said.

March 2015: A near total bandh in the delta districts of Tamil Nadu including Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam rocked the state, with farmers, traders and political parties agitating over the Mekedatu project.

April 2015: In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Union Minister of State for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sanwar Lal Jat informed the house that while the Detailed Project Report of the Shivanasamudram Run of the River Power Project was received by the Central Water Commission in February 2014, "DPR of no other project at Mekedatu has been received in CWC."

June 2016: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa presents memorandum to Prime Minister Modi in person. "I request Government of India to advise Government of Karnataka not to proceed with the project as this would violate the Final Order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal," she states.

A day later, Karnataka Water Resources Minister MB Patil reiterated Karnataka's commitment to the project.

February 2017: The then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka Cabinet grants in-principle nod to the Mekedatu project.

October 2017: The Karnataka government submitted a pre-feasibility report to the Central Water Commission, which was promptly returned by the body citing shortcomings.

February 2018: The Supreme Court ordered the setting up of a scheme that would oversee the enforcement of its orders as well as arbitrate on any future disputes between the two states. The apex court also upheld previous Cauvery agreements stating that no new dams can be built without Tamil Nadu‚Äôs assent. 

June 2018: The Central government constitutes the Cauvery Management Authority and its assisting body, the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, as per the Supreme Court verdict.

September 2018: Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy met PM Modi and requested a meeting be convened to resolve the Mekedatu dispute between the state and Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami wrote to PM Modi, condemning the ‚Äėunilateral actions of Karnataka‚Äô in approaching the CWC.

November 2018: Central Water Commission approves pre-feasibility report submitted by the Karnataka. The state gets go ahead to prepare a Detailed Project Report. However, the CWC states that water supply to Tamil Nadu from Cauvery must not be hampered. Tamil Nadu moves the Supreme Court seeking to prohibit Karnataka from proceeding with its Detailed Project Report.

December 2018: Cauvery Water Management Authority records Tamil Nadu's objections to the project. Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu led by the DMK stage a massive protest against the Mekedatu project in Trichy. Tamil Nadu moves contempt petition in the Supreme Court against the CWC, Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited and Karnataka Water Resource Minister DK Shivakumar for ‚Äėwilful disobedience‚Äô of the SC order on Cauvery water sharing.

Karnataka Minister of Water Resources DK Shivakumar writes to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami requesting a meeting, to amicably settle Mekedatu dispute. Special session of the Tamil Nadu Assembly passes unanimous resolution seeking to stop Karnataka's plans to construct the Mekedatu dam and calling for Central intervention in the matter.

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

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