Did the Law Minister T.B. Jayachandra issue an unwarranted statement on taking up hydel power projects at Mekedatu and Shivanasamudram by the State government across the Cauvery?
Sources close to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Minister for Major and Minor Irrigation M.B. Patil, believe so.
Both the Chief Minister and the Minister, it was said, were of the view that Mr. Jayachandra need not have spoken to the press on taking up irrigation/power projects with regard to a sensitive issue like the Cauvery basin, which had only sparked off a controversy.
They said that the reported statement had made Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa dash off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding him that Karnataka be restrained from taking up projects without its consent.
Sources close to Mr. Patil said that Mr. Siddaramaiah felt uneasy about the assertive manner in which Mr. Jayachandra spoke about the projects. “Who authorised him to promise that Karnataka would reciprocate Tamil Nadu in Hogenakkal project, if it supports the two projects, was the question asked when the two leaders discussed his statement,” the sources questioned.
Mr. Patil was reported to have told the Chief Minister that this was unnecessary, particularly when Karnataka was in a comfortable position with some of the Supreme Court’s orders in the recent past to the discomfiture of the neighbouring State. There was no need to make a controversial statement when everything was going on smoothly.
Government sources said the construction of any reservoirs at the two places would be for supplying drinking water to the water-starved towns and cities, including Bangalore. Karnataka believes that Tamil Nadu might not object to drinking water projects, as the latter gets 5 tmcft of water from the Krishna released from Karnataka to meet its drinking water needs.
Sources said that even the State’s senior counsel Fali S. Nariman had expressed unhappiness over the Law Minister’s remarks, keeping in view the sensitive nature of the Cauvery cases.
A Minister, who wished to remain anonymous, recalled that the then Large and Medium Irrigation Minister in the Janata Dal Cabinet had made a statement on the Alamatti reservoir attracting contempt plea by the Andhra Pradesh government before the Supreme Court.
The height of the dam could not be raised due to this development.