A day after Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa urged him not to oppose the Mekedatu project, his Tamil Nadu counterpart M.K. Stalin wrote back reiterating the State’s position and requesting him not to pursue the project across the Cauvery. He expressed his hope that cooperation and a good relationship would prevail between the two States.
Mr. Stalin stated that he was against comparing the Mekedatu balancing reservoir project with the two hydropower projects of Tamil Nadu. “Let me clarify at the very outset that there is no consumption of water in the two hydropower projects, with the available water being just recirculated by pumping to meet peak power demand. Both projects do not affect the availability of water for irrigation or drinking in Tamil Nadu,” he said.
The three components contributing to the annual quantum of water to be delivered by Karnataka at the inter-State contact point had been clearly identified in the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, he said.They have been then modified by the Supreme Court. But the proposed Mekedatu project will impound and divert the first component of uncontrolled flows due to Tamil Nadu, he said. “The flows coming in river Cauvery from the uncontrolled catchment of the Kabini sub-basin, downstream of Kabini reservoir, the catchment of the mainstream of Cauvery river below Krishnarajasahara, uncontrolled flows from Simsha, Arkavathy and Suvernavathy sub-basins and various other small streams. Therefore, the view that the implementation of the Mekedatu project will not affect the interests of Tamil Nadu’s farming community cannot be agreed to by us,” he said.
While the drawing of water from the river for drinking water usage in Bengaluru Metropolitan City has been permitted by the Supreme Court, citing that as the reason for constructing such a major reservoir in Mekedatu, which is far away from the metropolitan area, did not sound valid, he said. “Further, when Karnataka already has adequate infrastructure for drawing drinking water to meet the demand of the other Bengaluru Metropolitan area even now, the justification of the need for a reservoir with a storage capacity of 67.16 tmcft to utilise 4.75 TMC as drinking water is not at all acceptable. This will jeopardise the availability of water to Tamil Nadu,” he said.
The optimal utilisation of Tamil Nadu’s share of water hinges only on efficient water use. “But unfortunately, the efficiency of irrigation in the Cauvery system in Tamil Nadu cannot be improved much, since litigation has been on for long. Many old structures need improvements to increase water use efficiency,” he said.
Unless these works are carried out, it will be impossible for Tamil Nadu to meet its water demands, at the rate of supply stipulated in the order of the Supreme Court, he said, adding: “I request you to consider the above facts and the sensitivity of these issues and strongly urge you not to pursue the Mekedatu project. I wish to convey my good wishes to the people of Karnataka and earnestly hope that good co-operation and relationship prevails between the two States.”
Mr. Yediyurappa had written to Mr. Stalin urging him not to oppose the Mekedatu project in Ramanagaram district, and had suggested a bilateral meeting to discuss each other’s apprehensions.