Karnataka CM in Delhi to discuss water disputes, may meet PM Modi today
Karnataka chief minister Basvaraj Bommai landed in Delhi on Wednesday and is likely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.
“I have asked for time with the Prime Minister and I may get it tomorrow,” Bommai said in Bengaluru on Wednesday, just before he departed for Delhi.
The chief minister said that he would meet union ministers to discuss several issues concerning Karnataka including the interstate water disputes.
“Mostly it is to discuss the interstate water disputes. Will also discuss the case of Krishna and Cauvery with the lawyers and check the progress of these cases,” he said.
The visit to Delhi comes at a time when Karnataka has been piling pressure on the Centre to provide requisite clearances for the contentious Mekedatu project.
Mekedatu, which literally means Goat’s crossing in English, is situated around 100 kms from Bengaluru in Ramanagara district and evokes deep-rooted emotions in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The long-winding legal battles have been used as a political currency in the past as well as an active tool to deflect attention away from other issues both sides of the border and irrespective of the party in power.
The Cauvery river basin originates in Karnataka and flows through Tamil Nadu and Puducherry before it enters the Bay of Bengal. Of the total catchment area of 81,155 square kilometers, 34,273 kilometers is in Karnataka, 44,016 square kms in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and about 2,866 sq kms in Kerala.
Karnataka has maintained that the Mekedatu balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project is to generate 400 MW of power and additionally utilise 4.75 tmcft of water for drinking and domestic needs in the state and particularly Bengaluru.
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, soon after it came to power in 2013, announced the construction of the project which would cost ₹5912 crore to help use the excess water to quench the thirst of surrounding districts, including Bengaluru.
Then Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha wrote to the union government not to give the project an environment clearance as it would disrupt the natural flow of water from the upper riparian state.
The Congress in Karnataka has announced to carry out a Padayatra or a march from Mekedatu to Benglauru in the first half of December, demanding clearances and immediate commencement of work on the project.
The BJP has termed Congress’s march as “politica” while the latter has termed the Bommai government to “lack political will” as the two national parties trade charges over the project.
Bommai has also been under pressure after the BJP suffered a blow in the October 30 bypolls as it lost Hanagal, in the chief minister’s home district of Haveri, to the Congress.
Bommai said that the much delayed cabinet expansion in Karnataka is not on the agenda and that he is unsure if it will come up when he meets the party’s leadership in Delhi.