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The 1998 story of Hogenakkal

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R.K. Radhakrishnan

CHENNAI: In 1998, Karnataka agreed to abide by the conditions imposed by the Union Water Resources Ministry if Tamil Nadu withdrew its objections to Cauvery water being used to augment supply to Bangalore, according to the minutes of a meeting convened by the Union Secretary (Water Resources) and attended by officers of the Cauvery basin States on drinking water supply schemes of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on June 29, 1998.

“If the GoTN [Government of Tamil Nadu] will withdraw its objections, GoK [Government of Karnataka] will abide by the conditions laid down in the letter of concurrence issued by the Ministry. It will facilitate clearance of the Hogenakkal Water Supply Scheme of Tamil Nadu,” it was recorded in the minutes.

Tamil Nadu later withdrew its objections to Karnataka using its share of Cauvery water for supply to Bangalore.

The Centre made it clear at the meeting that the “National Water Policy attaches [the] highest priority to drinking water supply. It was, therefore, considered desirable that the request both of Karnataka for Bangalore Water Supply and that of TN for Hogenakkal water supply should be considered.”

Later, in September that year, a Union Water Resources Ministry official said “the Ministry of Water Resources has no objection to allocation of 1.4 tmc of Cauvery water annually to the Hogenakkal Water Supply & Sanitation Project by the Government of Tamil Nadu.”

The following is the text of a letter written by B.K. Chakrabarti, Deputy Commissioner in the Union Ministry of Water Resources, on September 21, 1998, to the Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, giving Tamil Nadu the go ahead for the Hogenakkal project.

“Please refer to the Tamil Nadu Government’s letter no.40405/WS/IV/97 dated 3.3.98 regarding Hogenakkal water supply and sanitation project, which envisages utilisation of 1.4 TMC of water annually from the Cauvery river for drinking water supply to Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu [Krishnagiri then was not a district; it was part of Dharmapuri].

“I am directed to state that the Ministry of Water Resources has no objection to allocation of 1.4 TMC of Cauvery water annually to the Hogenakkal Water Supply & Sanitation Project by the Government of Tamil Nadu subject to the following conditions:

“1. As per Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) interim order dated 25.6.91, 6 TMC water is to be supplied by Tamil Nadu to the Karaikal region of Union Territory of Pondicherry in a regulated manner. The Government of Tamil Nadu has to strictly ensure implementation of the interim order of CWDT and abide by the other restrictions and conditions laid down in the said interim order and any other relevant subsequent order.

“2. According to the interim order of CWDT 205 TMC of water is to be made available to Tamil Nadu at Mettur Dam with weekly and monthly stipulations subject to further clarificatory orders of the Tribunal. It is seen that the intake for the proposed water supply project is in the upstream of the Mettur Dam. As such, quantity of water to be supplied at Mettur will get reduced to that extent. It is also noted that this water will be drawn for the project only after 2000 A.D.

“3. Water utilisation for the aforesaid scheme is out of the share allocated by the CMBT in its interim order or to be allocated by the Tribunal to the Government of Tamil Nadu in its final order or award or any other order, and subject to the terms and conditions of the award or order.

“4. The Government of Tamil Nadu shall have no claim as a prescriptive right to the water for the project in question as existing or committed use in their demand for Cauvery Water allocation which is at present under adjudication by CWDT.

“The approval for implementation of the above project is, however, to be obtained from Ministry of Urban Affairs & Employment.”

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