TN govt moves SC against Mekedatu dam project

Tabling the first separate policy note of the water resources department, and presenting the demand for grants, water resources minister, Durai Murugan, asserted that Tamil Nadu will ensure that the state’s rights are not compromised in the decades-old inter-state water disputes with Karnataka and Kerala.
The state argues that the construction of the dam violates the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 2007 and a judgement of the Supreme Court in 2018. (HT File)
The state argues that the construction of the dam violates the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 2007 and a judgement of the Supreme Court in 2018. (HT File)
Published on Aug 24, 2021 12:10 AM IST
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ByDivya Chandrababu, Chennai

The Tamil Nadu government on Monday reiterated in the state assembly that it will not allow Karnataka to build the Mekedatu dam and the state has moved the Supreme Court against an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which disposed of an appeal on whether Karnataka has started constructing the project.

Tabling the first separate policy note of the water resources department, and presenting the demand for grants, water resources minister, Durai Murugan, asserted that Tamil Nadu will ensure that the state’s rights are not compromised in the decades-old inter-state water disputes with Karnataka and Kerala.

“The Government of Tamil Nadu is taking all necessary action to prevent Karnataka from constructing a dam at Mekedatu or any other place, in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka,” Durai Murugan said. The state argues that the construction of the dam violates the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in 2007 and a judgement of the Supreme Court in 2018.

This comes after the NGT (Southern Zone) took up suo motu cognisance that Karnataka has started construction work for the dam based on media reports. In May this year, an order was passed for a committee to be constituted to look into whether any construction activity has started without obtaining the necessary clearance. It was also meant to assess and submit a report if there have been environmental damages due to this. But, based on the review application filed by Karnataka, the NGT’s principal bench in New Delhi in June disposed of the matter, citing that the issue was before the Supreme Court. The state said since it was disposed of without allowing Tamil Nadu to file a reply, they went on an appeal earlier this month.

This comes after the DMK led an all-party delegation to the capital to meet Union jal shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to not give clearance to Karnataka and chief minister M K Stalin in his first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, had conveyed Tamil Nadu’s opposition. Stalin had also not agreed to bilateral talks with ex-Karnataka chief minister B S Yediyurappa. The intense battle continues with his successor Basavaraj Bommai, expressing they will continue with the plan.

Karnataka has maintained that the Mekedatu balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project will not affect Tamil Nadu and it is meant 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. Tamil Nadu has argued that the dam would disrupt the natural flow of water from the upper riparian state and affect its agrarian community.

In another issue where Karnataka has opposed Tamil Nadu’s plans, Durai Murugan said that the Tamil Nadu government will go ahead with the project to link Cauvery with Gundar within the state.

To alleviate the water shortage in Tamil Nadu, Murugan said the new government was committed to inter-linking of peninsular rivers like Mahanadhi, Godavari, Krishna, Pennar, Palar, Cauvery, Vaigai, and Gundar. He also announced that 1,000 check dams and barrages will be constructed in the state in the next 10 years to conserve water. Barrages will come up across Cauvery, Kollidam, and Thamirabarani in the first phase. The minister said drones will be deployed to monitor water bodies in the state.

Raising a dispute with another neighbouring state, the minister also said that Kerala’s “obstructionist attitude” was delaying works related to the Mullaperiyar Dam.

He raised the issue of pending work that is required to raise the water level to FRL 152 ft. These works have been recommended by the Central Water Commission and ordered by the Supreme Court in 2006 and 2014. Chief minister M K Stalin had urged Modi in his meeting to instruct the concerned departments to give clearance to Tamil Nadu to carry out the work to restore the water level in the dam.

“To strengthen the Baby Dam, 23 trees have to be felled down. Though necessary efforts have been taken to obtain necessary clearances, due to the obstructionist attitude of the state of Kerala, it is getting delayed,” the minister said. A petition seeking an order to the government of Kerala to cooperate for felling the 23 trees and repairing the Ghat road to the Dam site is pending in the Supreme Court. A joint inspection in June was carried out by the forest officials from Tamil Nadu and Kerala for details on the trees. Tamil Nadu is taking efforts to get the clearances of Union environment and wildlife departments regarding this pending work. Murugan added that a meeting with top Kerala officials to resolve water-related issues will be held shortly in Thiruvananthapuram.

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Thursday, December 02, 2021