Bengaluru: The Central Water Commission (CWC) on Tuesday gave an administrative approval by clearing the pre-feasibility report submitted by the Karnataka government for the construction of a balancing reservoir Mekedatu across the Cauvery river.
The commission has asked the state to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) after the state revised its pre-feasibility report that was submitted in October 2017. It has also asked Karnataka to follow the Supreme Court’s directives when it comes to water sharing, saying that 'water supply from Cauvery must not be hampered with'.
Welcoming the move, Karnataka water resource minister DK Shivakumar said that this would take the ambitious project a step forward. "We will take the project forward in a way that it does not affect Tamil Nadu. The water supply to them (TN) will not be reduced because of this. We are ready for talks with Tamil Nadu," Shivkumar said.
Opposition leader BS Yeddyurappa took the opportunity to thank union water resource minister Nitin Gadkari and the CWC for the approval. He also taunted the ruling government to stop giving excuses and commence the construction work. "Karnataka government should consider this as a special case and allocate funds on priority basis to complete the project in a time-bound manner."
The Rs 5912-crore project is a balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project which will provide water to villages in the southern districts of Bengaluru, Kolar and Ramnagara. It is also expected to generate hydro-electricity. In terms of expenditure on the project, so far only Rs 1.49 crore has been incurred.
The neighboring state of Tamil Nadu, however, wasn't pleased with the Centre’s move. Chief Minister EK Palalniswami wrote a letter to the prime minister asking him to direct the water resource ministry to withdraw the permission it has granted to the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam.
"The Central Water Commission without considering the genuine and justifiable objections of Tamil Nadu has given permission. The proposal for reservoir is not just for drinking water alone as claimed by Karnataka, but to increase the extent of irrigation which is in clear violation of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal Award as affirmed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. This action has caused great alarm and apprehension among the people of Tamil Nadu," read the letter.
The project which was announced in 2013 has faced various hurdles over the years as the matter was sub judice. However, with the apex court’s verdict in February this year and the formation of the scheme, the decade-long dispute seemed settled until now.