In a letter to Manmohan, she takes exception to proposal for dam

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa wants the Centre to instruct Karnataka not to take up any schemes in the Cauvery, including hydro-electric projects, without the prior consent of Tamil Nadu.

Taking exception to the neighbouring State’s proposal to build a reservoir across the river at Mekedatu for generation of hydro-electric power, Ms.Jayalalithaa on Monday requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene.

In a letter to Dr. Singh, she urged him to advise the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests not to accord clearance to any projects of Karnataka in the river till the Cauvery Management Board is formed. Details of the letter were released to the media on Tuesday.

Pointing to Karnataka Law Minister’s statement in the media about the plan to construct a hydro power station at Mekedatu, she said three reservoirs were to be constructed across the Cauvery for the purpose. It was also reported that Karnataka proposed to utilise the surplus water of the Hemavathy and the Krishnarajasagar reservoirs at an estimated cost of Rs.500 crore to Rs.600 crore for drinking water schemes, Ms.Jayalalithaa said.

“The proposed reservoirs near Mekedatu are new schemes [and] not contemplated in the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal,” she said. As the Tribunal had prescribed the total quantity of water to be used for consumptive use, this proposal of Karnataka was “wholly illegal”.

The move would affect the natural flow of the Cauvery river considerably and severely affect irrigation in Tamil Nadu, the Chief Minister said, adding the proposal was causing alarm and apprehension.

Noting that the proposal would set at nought the Tribunal’s final order, she said Karnataka should not be allowed to unilaterally execute a scheme without the lower riparian State’s consent.

Moreover, the Cauvery Management Board directed to be constituted by the final order of the Tribunal was yet to be put in place by the Centre. In the absence of the Board, “a permanent monitoring mechanism”, the Karnataka Minister’s stand that there is no impediment to construction of a reservoir was wholly untenable and against all principles of federalism, she said in her letter.

The Tamil Nadu government, she added, had filed an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court seeking to restrain Karnataka from executing the Shivasamudram and Mekedatu hydro-electric projects on its own. It wanted the apex court to direct the Centre to execute the Shivasamudram, Mekedatu, Hogenekkal and Rasimanal hydel projects as a package through the National Hydro Power Corporation Ltd or any other appropriate Central power generation utility. The civil appeals and the interlocutory application were pending in the Supreme Court and therefore the entire matter is sub judice.

She said her repeated requests to Dr. Singh to instruct the Union Ministry of Water Resources to constitute the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee for ensuring the effective implementation of the final order of the Tribunal have not been acceded to.