Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Tamil Nadu fumes as Karnataka secures approval for Cauvery reservoir project

Karnataka maintains that the construction of the dam will not impact its commitment of releasing the quantum of Cauvery water specified by the Supreme Court to its neighbour

Bengaluru/Chennai: The Central Water Commission (CWC) on Tuesday approved Karnataka’s pre-feasibility report for the construction of the contentious Mekedatu balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project over river Cauvery that has threatened to revive tensions between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka maintains that the construction of the dam will not impact its commitment of releasing the quantum of Cauvery water specified by the Supreme Court (SC) to its neighbour. Tamil Nadu has registered its opposition with the Centre on Tuesday, stating that Karnataka is proposing the construction to increase the extent of irrigation that violates the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal Award as affirmed by the apex court.

“It is only a storage point and the project will help Tamil Nadu more than it will help Karnataka," D.K. Shivakumar, Karnataka’s irrigation minister, said on Tuesday.

The Karnataka government says that the project will be used for providing drinking water to Bengaluru and surrounding regions as well as generating about 400 Megawatt of electricity and not for agriculture as alleged by its neighbouring state.

“The action of the CWC has caused great alarm and apprehension among the people of Tamil Nadu as it will affect the livelihood of lakhs of farmers," Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Tamil Nadu chief minister, wrote in his letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.

The CWC’s decision, which is being attributed to the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, that appears to favour Karnataka over Tamil Nadu is likely to have adverse implications on the party’s prospects in next year’s elections in the southern state, where it is trying to make inroads to try and fill the political vacuum created after the death of J. Jayalalitha.

The Tamil Nadu government has asked the CWC to withdraw the permission given to Karnataka for preparation of the report.

The development comes almost 10 months after the Supreme Court ordered Karnataka would to release 177.25 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) of water to Tamil Nadu as against an earlier quantum of 192 tmcft. The court also allocated an additional 4.75 tmcft to Bengaluru to meet the drinking water and domestic requirements of the “global city". As a result, Karnataka will now receive 284.75 tmcft as against the 270 tmcft it gets at present.

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