CHENNAI: With the governments of Karnataka and Kerala going ahead with their plans to set up dams in the Cauvery and its sub-tributary, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to direct the Environment Ministry not to accord clearance to any projects in the Cauvery basin in both Karnataka and Kerala.
Pointing out the several petitions filed by Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that are pending before the Supreme Court and also the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, Jayalalithaa said, “In these circumstances, it is only proper for the states to await the formation of the Cauvery Management Board and further judicial decisions before initiating any new scheme in the Cauvery Basin or its sub basins.”
Kerala is going ahead with the Attapadi valley irrigation project to build a gravity dam across the Siruvani river, a sub-tributary of Cauvery, while the Karnataka Cabinet is all set to give its clearance for the Mekedatu reservoir project that aims to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and other places.
In her letter sent on Saturday, Jayalalithaa slammed the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for showing ‘unwarranted haste’ in granting the Standard Terms of Reference for conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the dam across the Siruvani. She also alleged that the Environment Ministry’s claim that it had written to the State several times, which was entered in the minutes of the EAC meeting - was ‘factually incorrect’.
“The committee has decided to recommend this without obtaining the necessary comments of the government,” she said, denying the allegations that TN had failed to respond despite communication from the Ministry.
Pointing out that her government had written several times to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Environment Ministry and Kerala government to express strong objection, she said the State was not informed about the proposal. The matter was taken up as an additional agenda and gave the nod for undertaking the EIA study.
The CM asked Modi to personally intervene in the matter and direct the Environment Ministry to immediately withdraw the EAC’s recommendation on conducting the EIA of the Attappady project, and also to direct it against granting clearance to any projects in the Cauvery basin till the board was formed and the cases were settled.