Cauvery panel to meet today, but unlikely to resolve crisis

T.N. and Karnataka may raise Mekedatu dam issue

Published - June 20, 2019 12:57 am IST - CHENNAI

With the southwest monsoon yet to gain vigour over the catchment areas of the Cauvery in Kerala and Karnataka, the meeting of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC), scheduled to take place in New Delhi on Thursday, may turn out to be an academic exercise with regard to the issue of water release.

The CWRC meet is a prelude to the proposed meeting of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) on June 25. Late last month, the CWMA asked Karnataka to release 9.19 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) of water in June. As of Tuesday (June 18), the State realised around 1.7 tmc ft, a shortfall of 3.8 tmc ft for the period that lapsed (June 1-18).

Officials in Tamil Nadu are aware that the storage at the four relevant dams in Karnataka is not high. The combined storage of the dams – Krishnaraja Sagar, Kabini, Hemavathy and Harangi – stood at approximately 23.3 tmc ft, against their capacity of 114.57 tmc ft. Besides, the dams too are not getting any significant inflows. As a result, Tamil Nadu is receiving only an incremental flow. As on date, the Mettur dam in the State holds 14.7 tmc ft, which includes an allowance for dead storage of 5 tmc ft. It can hold up to 93.47 tmc ft.

It is against this backdrop that the CWRC is going to hold deliberations. Apart from reviewing the storage position of all the dams in the Cauvery basin States, the Committee may prefer to wait before making any recommendation to the CWMA on water release.

However, the Committee may see either Karnataka or Tamil Nadu raise the issue of the Mekedatu dam project, as this will be its first meeting since the Chief Ministers of the two States, H.D. Kumaraswamy and Edappadi K. Palaniswami, explained their respective positions in favour of and against the proposal, respectively, to Union Water Resources Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat last week.

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