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Shekhawat vows ‘justice’ to K’taka in Mekedatu project

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Union jalshakti minister on Tuesday said that justice will be done to the state of Karnataka in all irrigation projects, including the construction of the Mekedatu balancing reservoir and drinking water project
By Sharan Poovanna, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON JUL 14, 2021 12:32 AM IST

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Union jalshakti minister on Tuesday said that justice will be done to the state of Karnataka in all irrigation projects, including the construction of the Mekedatu balancing reservoir and drinking water project.

“We will look deep into the issues of the state of Karnataka, and we will organise a meeting in Delhi for that after having studied all these things, and I assure you that justice will be given to the state of Karnataka,” Shekhawat said.

The Union minister was speaking to reporters in Bengaluru after a meeting with Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa and other senior members of his cabinet.

Shekhawat said that all irrigation projects in the state were discussed in the meeting and that he had asked the state government to look into all the pending projects, including Mekedatu, Kalasa-Banduri and all other projects.

The statement comes as a shot in the arm for the Yediyurappa-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government which has been on a collision course with the newly elected Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin and his demands that the Mekedatu project not be approved.

“We have discussed in detail almost all the irrigation projects, including Mekedatu. So, definitely in the coming days, we are going to complete all the things, and he is going help us from the Centre and (is) ready to help us in all respects,” Yediyurappa said.

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for generations have fought over the Cauvery river water, and have now locked horns over the project, which the upper riparian state is adamant to construct at the earliest as a way to satiate its drinking water needs, including that of its biggest city, Bengaluru.

The Mekedatu issue has evoked emotions on both sides of the border as it is an extension of the century-old Cauvery river water dispute that has defined generations in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, two of India’s most industrious and progressive states.

Karnataka has maintained that the Mekedatu balancing reservoir and 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.

Basavaraj Bommai, Karnataka’s minister for home, law and parliamentary affairs added that the chief minister has appraised the Union minister of the Mekedatu issue and has urged for clearances, which are pending before the Centre.

“DPR (detailed project report) has been submitted to CWC (central water commission) and details have been referred to (the) Cauvery monitoring board. So, honourable minister (Shekhawat) is aware of the whole issue, and he has promised to look into the whole issue and give justice to Karnataka,” he said.

The contentious issue of constructing a Mekedatu project has even blurred the ongoing tussle between the ruling BJP and the opposition with the latter, assuring full support to take up the infrastructure project despite Tamil Nadu’s stand.

DK Shivakumar, the president of the Congress party in Karnataka, on Tuesday, said that the Union minister should help the state like has done for others in the country.

“On this auspicious occasion, we should fix a good time and do the Bhoomi Puja,” Shivakumar said on Tuesday.

He added that all tenders can be called post that and get all necessary clearances.

Though Shekhawat said that the party is different from the state, Shivakumar took a jibe at the BJP and its promise of speedy development due to the “double-engine” government (BJP at the Centre and the state).

Shivakumar also added that the members of Parliament from Karnataka have a lock on their mouths as none of them has raised the issue with the Centre that benefits the state.

Shekhawat also reviewed the project that proposes to provide tap water connections to all households in Karnataka. Under the Jal Jeevan mission, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union government has proposed to provide functional household tap water connections to 157 million rural households by 2024.

“Government aims to provide 9.1 million rural households, 55 LPCD potable water through FHTC. Under this scheme, during 2021-22 it is intended to provide FHTCs to 2.5 million households and 2.7 million households in 2022-23 and to cover (the) remaining 1.72 million households by the end of December 2023,” according to a statement from the chief minister’s office (CMO), attributing it to Yediyurappa.

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