MEKEDATU: Reiterating Karnataka’s commitment to implementing the Mekedatu drinking water project in a way that would benefit both the states and clear apprehensions of Tamil Nadu, Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar has invited Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami to visit the spot before raising objections to it.
Shivakumar had on Thursday written to the TN CM for holding of talks to clear the apprehensions of TN about the proposed ‘balancing reservoir’ for drinking water and power generation purpose.
Briefing the media about the features of the proposed project after inspecting the site on Friday, Shivakumar said, “The feasibility report suggests that the project would cost Rs 5,912 crore of which Rs 2,000 crore will be for setting up of a power generation station and remaining funds for the reservoir and drinking water.
The project was proposed purely to provide drinking water to Ramanagaram and Bengaluru districts, and not a single acre will be irrigated with this water. I still do not know why Tamil Nadu politicians have filed a contempt petition and I am surprised to learn that they have called a special assembly session on the matter. I can understand their situation and I am optimistic that I will convince them. The day TN CM agrees to come, I will bring all the politicians from there to this spot for inspection to assure them that this is not an irrigation project but a drinking water project.”
The Karnataka government has identified the place for the construction of a balancing reservoir 1.5 km before proper Mekedatu, making it 3 km away from the Tamil Nadu border. The reservoir has been proposed to be built between the borders of Ramanagaram and Chamarajanagar districts, between two hills lying under Kollegal and Hanoor taluk limits.
Shivakumar also said the project has to be cleared by the Ministry of Environment and Forests as the proposed site comes under the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary. “Since the place identified for the reservoir comes under forest range and wildlife sanctuary, the government is yet to get clearance from the MoEF. We are confident that the project will get all the necessary clearances from the authorities.”
He said the project will help the state generate 440 MW and ensure Bengaluru gets 4.7 tmcft of drinking water. “There is no provision of utilising the water from this project for irrigation. As per the order of the Cauvery Tribunal, the state can utilise 18 tmcft of water for drinking purpose and an additional of 4.5 tmcft could be released for Bengaluru. There is no need for TN politicians to worry about the matter,” he said.
According to the feasibility report, 4,996 hectares, including 296 hectares of revenue land and 500-600 acres of agricultural land, will be submerged, and 5-6 villages will be rehabilitated.
Shivakumar thanked the Cetre for giving the green signal to the project. He also requested the Centre to intervene and solve the confusion between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
“According to the Cauvery Management Board, Karnataka has to release 177 tmcft of water to TN every year. There will be no hurdles to that. Every year, Karnataka releases 397 tmc water to Tamil Nadu but it uses only 150 tmc and the remaining flows to the sea. Here, we will release the same amount of water after generating power,” he said.