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Amid rising temperatures and a delayed monsoon, Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka D.K. Shivakumar urged the Tamil Nadu government to show magnanimity over the contentious Mekedaatu project and cooperate for the benefit of farmers of both states. He emphasized that it was time for both states to cease their court battles and work together towards this ambitious project.
Shivakumar expressed his conviction that the Mekedaatu project would not cause any harm to Tamil Nadu and appealed to the State government to recognize the advantages of the project, which aimed to provide drinking water and benefit farmers in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. He pointed out that though project had already been allocated a significant fund of Rs 1,000 crore, the funds remained unutilized.
In an effort to assuage concerns, Shivakumar emphasized that the intention behind the Mekedaatu project was not to create animosity or engage in conflict with Tamil Nadu. He stressed that both states had shared a brotherly relationship and the project aimed to ensure the judicious use of water resources from the river Cauvery, rather than allowing it to flow into the ocean.
Shivakumar expressed his conviction that the Mekedaatu project would not cause any harm to Tamil Nadu and appealed to the State government to recognize the advantages of the project, which aimed to provide drinking water and benefit farmers in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
The Dy Chief Minister explained that the control of the Cauvery River dams rested with the central government, which would decide on water releases. He further argued that establishing a power-generating unit as part of the project would have no detrimental impact on Tamil Nadu. According to him, the project’s purpose was to store and utilize water for drinking purposes, and there was no reason for the lower riparian state to be concerned.
However, in his response Tamil Nadu’s Water Resources Minister Durai Murugan strongly countered Shivakumar’s assertion that the Mekedaatu dam would be constructed. Murugan declared that the Tamil Nadu government would vehemently oppose the dam proposal at every level.
The minister also expressed astonishment at the assertion made by the Karnataka Dy Chief Minister on Thursday that the Tamil Nadu government had failed to attend the 15 meetings of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) conducted thus far. Murugan stated that officials of Karnataka may have provided incorrect information to their Dy Chief Minister as Tamil Nadu had participated in every meeting, and this fact had been documented in the minutes of the CWMA.
The Tamil Nadu government has said the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) allocated the available water among the riparian States after considering each project and had even rejected certain proposals. The Supreme Court fully endorsed the Tribunal’s order in its final verdict on February 16, 2018. Hence, Karnataka’s attempt to construct a large dam at Mekedaatu, which is not mentioned in the Supreme Court’s final verdict, violates the order of the highest court. The States should operate in accordance with the Constitution and federal principles while respecting the judgment of the Supreme Court, Tamil Nadu has asserted.
Experts in the TN Water Resources ministry echoed this view and emphasized that as per the Supreme Court’s ruling, no State can claim exclusive rights over the waters of an interstate river. “Karnataka has already established its water resources to supply drinking water to Bengaluru city. However, now, under the pretext of 4.75 TMC of drinking water, Karnataka is endeavouring to build a dam with a capacity of 67.6 TMC,” Durai Murugan remarked.
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