Water Resources Minister D.K. Shivakumar has sought an appointment with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami to make a detailed presentation and remove “misconceptions” about the proposed Mekedatu balancing reservoir in Karnataka.
Mr. Shivakumar has written to Mr. Palaniswami saying he wants to have a discussion to find an “amicable solution” to the Mekedatu issue, for which Karnataka has been permitted by the Central Water Commission to submit a detailed project report (DPR). Tamil Nadu has approached the Supreme Court seeking a stay against Karnataka preparing and submitting the DPR.
Mr. Shivakumar said there was no substance in Tamil Nadu’s fears that the project may be misused for irrigation purposes as there was no private land at all in the project area.
The Minister also wants the Tamil Nadu CM to pay a visit to the project site to verify if there has been any violation of norms. “We will not deviate from the norms and there is no question of using water from Mekedatu for irrigation. With folded hands, I request them (the Tamil Nadu CM and team) to give time and visit the project site,” the Minister said.
Pointing out that the proposed reservoir would come under the control of the Cauvery Water Management Board, Mr. Shivakumar argued that there would be no scope for misuse.
He maintained that the project would actually help Tamil Nadu more than Karnataka by regulating the flow of Cauvery water as part of that State’s share and ensuring availability of water even during summer. Describing Tamil Nadu’s opposition to the project as “not proper”, he said there was a dire need for Karnataka to build a balancing reservoir in Mekedatu to ensure availability of water for the neighbouring State during distress periods.
He pointed out that as against the stipulated annual release of 177.25 tmcft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka had released 395 tmcft so far in this year. But Tamil Nadu was not in a position to store so much water and it allowed about 245 tmcft to reach the sea, he said. The Mekedatu project could help prevent at least some quantum of water from reaching the sea during good monsoon, the Minister said.
The project would require 4,996 hectares of land, including 280 hectares of revenue land, he explained.
Meeting in Bengaluru
Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy held a meeting of former Chief Ministers and former Irrigation Ministers, along with the State’s legal and technical teams, in Bengaluru on Thursday to decide on the measures to be taken with respect to several pending irrigation projects.
The legal team was instructed to take measures to convince the apex court that the Mekedatu project would not violate any norms, so that the court would not stay submission of the DPR, Mr. Shivakumar said.
The meeting was attended by former Chief Ministers Siddaramaiah and Jagadish Shettar, and former Irrigation Ministers Allum Veerabhadrappa, Basavaraj Bommai, K.S. Eshwarappa, H.K. Patil, and M.B. Patil.