Karnataka Water Resource Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi along with a delegation of officials from his department met Union Minister for Water Resources Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Wednesday and urged him to look into various water disputes related to the state.
Ramesh Jarkiholi urged Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to notify the order of the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal and also the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal. He also requested the Union minister to give the go ahead for the Mekedatu project.
Supreme Court on February 21 granted interim relief to Karnataka and allowed the state to implement the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunalâ€™s order after the Centre notifies the same.
On August 14, 2018, the Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal had allocated 13.42 tmcft of water to Karnataka. Of the 13.42 tmcft, 5.5 tmcft is was meant for use within the Mahadayi river basin and for diversion to the Malaprabha reservoir. Of the total allocation, 8 tmcft was meant for power generation. Goa has opposed the tribunalâ€™s order and moved the Supreme Court asking for relief from the order. The case is currently being heard by the Supreme Court.
The Goa government is also against the construction of canals on the Kalasa and Banduri tributaries of the Malaprabha river, which the Karnataka farmers have been demanding for over three decades.
Farmers in north Karnataka, who depend on water from the Malaprabha river, were unable to avail benefits of the tribunalâ€™s order as the Centre had not notified the Mahadayi Water Dispute Tribunalâ€™s order.
The Krishna water dispute
Ramesh Jarkiholi also sought the Centreâ€™s intervention in issuing a gazette notification of the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal. The tribunal had in 2013 granted Karnataka 907 tmcft of water for irrigation purposes. This was meant to benefit farmers in Yadgir, Raichur, BIjapur, Bagalakote and Gulbarga districts of Karnataka. The final award was meant to irrigate 15.4 lakh acres of land.
The tribunal also allowed Karnataka to increase the capacity of the Almatti Dam from 519m to 524m. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are opposing Karnatakaâ€™s governmentâ€™s decision to increase the height of the dam.
â€śWe submitted separate memorandums to the Centre to notify the tribunalsâ€™ orders in both the Mahadayi and Krishna water disputes. Construction of the Kalasa Banduri project must begin soon to benefit the farmers,â€ť an official with the Water Resources Department said.
The Mekedatu project
Minister Jarkiholi also requested the Centre to okay the Mekedatu project, which aims at providing drinking water to Bengaluru. The Centre had granted conditional clearance for the project in 2018 after the state government submitted a detailed project report earlier that year. However, in 2019, the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change refused to grant environmental clearance for the project.
The Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir project aims at bringing in Cauvery water to Bengaluru city. The MoEFCC had stated in 2019 that the project would destroy 52.5 sq km of forest land, including the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. The MoEFCCâ€™s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) had then stated that the issue of an environmental clearance would be discussed only if Tamil Nadu and Karnataka reach an amicable solution to the construction of the project. The Tamil Nadu government has opposed the project stating it would affect the farmers of the state adversely.