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Mekedatu dam issue: TN against Cauvery Water Management Authority

- June 19, 2022

Arun Lakshman/ Chennai (IANS)

Political parties of Tamil Nadu are in an agitator mode after the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) chairman, S.K. Halder stated that the CWMA would discuss the Mekedatue dam issue on June 23. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.K. Stalin said that a delegation of Tamil Nadu legislators led by the state Water Resources Minister, S. Duraimurugan would meet the Union Jal Shakthi minister against the involvement of CWMA in the matter.

The political parties of Tamil Nadu are of the opinion that the CWMA did not have any brief to discuss the Mekedetu dam construction issue which is an issue between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and a legal battle is taking place between the states at the Supreme Court of India on the matter.

Stalin lashed out against the CWMA Chairman and said that the body does not have any power to take unilateral decisions when the matter was pending before the Supreme Court of India where a legal battle is taking place between the affected states.

Tamil Nadu political parties including the opposition AIADMK is of the opinion that the Union government should not yield to the pressure tactics of the Karnataka government.

Stalin in a statement said that the Karnataka side has been making all-out efforts to reduce the quantum of Cauvery water given to Tamil Nadu and that the proposed dam at Mekedatu is one of the major effects of reducing Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu. The Chief Minister also said that this was a big betrayal to the farmers of Tamil Nadu and that this was against the federal principles of the country.

Tamil Nadu side is of the opinion that the movement of Karnataka to construct a dam is against the part verdicts of the Supreme Court of India. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned that the Supreme Court had delivered a judgment on February 16, 2018, apportioning the waters of Cauvery amongst the riparian states.

Political leaders of Tamil Nadu are of the opinion that even though the water is received by the state as part of the Supreme Court ordered apportioning of waters is low but the state was managing without complaints as part of honouring the verdict of the apex court.

The state is of the opinion that even though there is a lesser quantum of water being delivered from Cauvery, it needs to be as per the schedule and any disruption in that would adversely affect the state’s farming and that was why Mekedatu dam issue is turning into a very sensitive issue for the state of Tamil Nadu.

It may be noted that Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are at logger heads for a several years over the Mekedatu dam issue on the share of water from Cauvery river. The Mekedatu dam project estimated at Rs 9000 crores, once completed ,is aimed at ensuring drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring areas and it can also generate 400 MW of power.

The proposed Mekedatu reservoir is estimated to have a capacity of 2,84,000 million cubic feet(TMC) and as said earlier the Karnataka government in its budget for the financial year 2022-23 allocated Rs 1000 crore this year  for implementing the project.

Tamil Nadu is sore that the Mekedatu dam area represents the last free point in Karnataka from where Cauvery flows freely to Tamil Nadu and that the Mekedatu dam project is a ploy by the Karnataka side to prevent the free flow of water to Tamil Nadu and to block it.

The Tamil Nadu side believes that if the dam is built, Karnataka will only release residual quantities of water to Tamil Nadu and hence the state is opposed to the project in totality.

All the political parties of Tamil Nadu including the AIADMK and the BJP are against the Mekedatu project leading to the state legislative assembly passing a unanimous resolution against the same.

With the statement of the CWMA chairman causing much concern in Tamil Nadu, it is certain that in the days to come politics of the state will revolve around Mekedatu and the authority of the CWMA chairman to hold a discussion on the dam project.