Reacting sharply to Tamil Nadu BJP state president K. Annamalai’s protest against the proposed Mekedatu balancing reservoir project, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday said that Tamil Nadu is opposing the Mekedatu project for the sake of politicking.
After a meeting with officials at the Vidhan Soudha here, Bommai told reporters that there will be no compromise on the Mekedatu project as Karnataka will launch it once the Union government clears the project. “Irrespective of who were protesting in Tamil Nadu, they are doing it for political reasons,” he shot back in response to a question.
He added that during water shortage this project will prove beneficial to both the states. “We have already prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) and submitted it to Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat recently and I have confidence that the DPR will be approved by the Union government and the project will be taken up shortly thereafter,” he said.
He added that work on the project will start and there will be no compromise on this. “If anybody is protesting, we are not concerned and we are not taking it seriously,” the Chief Minister said.
The proposed Mekedatu (Goat’s Leap) reservoir project is proposed to be built at a deep gorge at the confluence of the Cauvery river and its tributary Arkavathi, in Ramanagara district.
According to the ‘Pre-feasibility report of Mekedatu Balancing Reservoir and Drinking Water Project’ by Karnataka’s Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited, the possibility of developing power from the Mekedatu project has been under examination since 1948.
However, this project was revived only in 2013 when it received an in-principle nod by the then Chief Minister Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government, following which a pre-feasibility report was submitted to the Central Water Commission by the state government.
According to this plan, the reservoir would have a capacity of around 67 tmcft of water and is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring areas. The project is also envisioned to generate 400 MW power once it is completed.
Flagging Tamil Nadu’s concerns about this project on July 4, Chief Minister M. K. Stalin in his letter to then Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yediyurappa, stated that the proposed Mekedatu project would impound and divert the first component of uncontrolled flows due to Tamil Nadu. “The flow is coming into the river Cauvery from the uncontrolled catchment of Kabini sub-basin downstream of Kabini reservoir, the catchment of the mainstream of Cauvery river below Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS), uncontrolled flows from Simsha, Arkavathy and Suvarnavathi sub-basins and various other small streams,” Stalin added.
The Cauvery water sharing dispute has been a bone of contention between the two states for long. After prolonged legal battles the apex court delivered its final verdict in 2018, increasing the allocation to Karnataka.
According to this final verdict, Karnataka would get 284.75 tmcft of water, Tamil Nadu 404.25 tmcft, Kerala 30 tmcft, Pondicherry 7 tmcft, and 14 tmcft would be reserve for “environmental protection” and “wastage into the sea”.