“Proposed reservoirs near Mekedatu not contemplated in the Tribunal final order”

The Tamil Nadu government on Monday moved the Supreme Court for a direction to the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Management Board as per the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal to ensure strict implementation of the award.

The State, in its application, said Chief Minister Jayalalithaa in her letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 2, stated inter-alia about Karnataka’s plan to construct a hydro-power station at Mekedatu. For this purpose, three reservoirs were planned across Cauvery river near Mekedatu.

“Karnataka is proposing 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 in the application.

She stated that the proposed reservoirs near Mekedatu were new schemes not contemplated in the Final Order of the Tribunal. Therefore, the proposal of Karnataka, besides being wholly illegal, was causing great alarm and apprehension in Tamil Nadu, as it would affect the flow of Cauvery river considerably and will severely affect irrigation in Tamil Nadu. She emphasised the need for setting up the CMB.

The stand of Karnataka that “there is no impediment in executing the scheme of construction of a reservoir as the Final Order has been notified is wholly untenable and against all principles of federalism. In a federal structure, no upper riparian State can unilaterally interfere with the natural flow of an inter-State river without the consent and concurrence of the lower riparian State.

Further, the proposal of Karnataka to modernise the Hemavathy canals with funding assistance under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme will result in increased drawal of water by Karnataka and expansion of Ayacut to an extent that is more than what has been allocated by the Final Order of the Tribunal, besides affecting the natural flow of the river and consequently seriously affecting the irrigation interests of Tamil Nadu.”

The Karnataka Chief Secretary in his letter dated 30.10.2013 to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary stated that the Final Order “does not bar Karnataka from constructing projects in the Cauvery basin for utilisation of available water; after ensuring to Tamil Nadu 192 tmc ft annually in a normal year at Biligundlu it has the right to use surplus water or salvaged water by savings.”

On November 7, one of the Karnataka Ministers was reported to have stated that Karnataka was planning to allocate Rs. 50,000 crore to complete irrigation projects.

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