‘Don’t pursue Mekedatu project,’ Stalin tells Yediyurappa
The construction of a reservoir in Mekedatu across the Cauvery river continues to cause friction between neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin on Sunday strongly opposed the Mekedatu reservoir project, once again, this time in response to a letter written to him by his counterpart, BS Yediyurappa in Karnataka over the issue. Though Yediyurappa made a fresh bid to resolve the issue, Tamil Nadu’s new chief minister urged him not to pursue the project.
In his letter, Stalin said that the proposed Mekedatu project “would definitely jeopardize the availability of water to Tamil Nadu.” He contended that Karnataka’s view that the implementation of the project would not affect the interests of Tamil Nadu’s farming community cannot be agreed to. He said that the project would impound and divert the first component of uncontrolled flows coming in river Cauvery that is due to Tamil Nadu.
Stalin noted that in the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, which has been modified by the Supreme Court of India, the three components contributing to the annual quantum of water to be delivered by Karnataka at the inter-State contact point have been clearly identified.
Stalin said that Karnataka constructing “such a major reservoir”, which is too far away from Bengaluru “does not sound valid” by citing the reason of the top court allowing water to be drawn from the Cauvery river as drinking water for the capital city. He added that Karnataka already has adequate infrastructure to draw and meet the drinking water demand of Bengaluru, therefore, “the justification of the need for a reservoir with a storage capacity of 67.16 TMC to utilize 4.75 TMC as drinking water is not at all acceptable. This would definitely jeopardize the availability of water to Tamil Nadu.”
Yediyurappa, in his letter on July 3, said that the project was in the interest of both states and urged Stalin not to oppose it. He also proposed a meeting to iron out differences. “In order to address issues, if any, it is suggested that a bilateral meeting could also be held in the presence of officials concerned to clear all apprehensions,” said Yediyurappa.
“Karnataka will only take its share of water from the project and nothing more,” he had said. Stalin’s response didn’t address the proposed meeting but hoped for good cooperation and relationship to prevail between them.
Stalin objected to Yediyurappa comparing the Mekedatu project with two hydropower projects undertaken by Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery basin -at Kundaha and Sillahalla- for which the latter said no consent was taken from them. “Let me clarify,” Stalin said, adding, “...there is no consumption of water in these two hydropower projects, with the available water being just re-circulated by pumping to meet peak power demand. Since there is no additional usage created, both the projects do not affect the availability of water for irrigation or drinking usage in Tamil Nadu. Hence, I wish to again emphasise that the comparison of such qualitatively different projects is not appropriate.”
The 9000-crore project has been a non-starter and has been mired in litigation. Stalin said that the Supreme Court’s allotment of Tamil Nadu’s share of water hinges only on efficient water use but an increase in water use efficiency requires modernisation. “But unfortunately, the efficiency of irrigation in the Cauvery system in Tamil Nadu could not be improved much since litigation was on for long,” Stalin said. “Unless these works are carried out, it would be impossible for us to meet the water demand at the rate of supply stipulated in the order of the Hon’ble Court.”