Mekedatu project will help drought-hit areas of Karnataka: Expert

K Rudraiah, former secretary, Department of Water Resources, says there is movement on the Mekedatu project in Delhi and Karnataka is fighting for its share of water.

Published: 06th February 2022 04:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th February 2022 04:54 AM   |  A+A-

The recent Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned the implementation of several river-linking projects

Express News Service

BENGALURU: K Rudraiah, former secretary, Department of Water Resources, says there is movement on the Mekedatu project in Delhi and Karnataka is fighting for its share of water.

Excerpts:

Environmentalists are saying interlinking of rivers is not an ecologically sound idea...
The plan to connect Cauvery river with other rivers is not specific to Karnataka or South India. There is a national plan here. The overall idea is to connect 30 large rivers across the country and of these, 16 are peninsular rivers, while the remaining 14, including Ganga, originate in the Himalayas. The amount needed for interlinking of all the rivers will be upwards of Rs 6 lakh crore. Remember, these are projects will help us not only with water, but also power. The plan is to generate 5.5 gigawatt of energy nationally, and it will obviously need a network of canals and setting up of reservoirs to store and pump water. Water from some rivers has to be lifted using pumps. Once done, these projects will help solve water shortage in large parts of Karnataka, right from Chitradura, Haveri, Tumakuru, Kolar to Chikkaballapur that are drought prone. The river-linking projects will alleviate the perennial water shortage in these parts. There is a history behind it.    

What do you mean by the history of interlinking of rivers?
The idea of river linking is not new. It was spoken about in the early seventies by former minister Dr KL Rao, who had said that the Ganga and Cauvery should be linked. During the Janata Party government of Morarji Desai, Capt Dastur had considered this issue. When Indira Gandhi came back to power later, the issue was raised again. More recently, the Vajpayee government too discussed it extensively at the highest level.
 
Some experts say justice should be done to Karnataka in sharing of river waters
The excess water from Mahanadi and Godavari are being brought south through a network of canals and reservoirs. While Mahanadi is under dispute, water from Godavari will be shared between Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu. The earlier report had mentioned about Karnataka getting water from Mahanadi. Now, we are fighting to include our share in the modified report.

The Mekedatu project with a capacity of 67 tmcft was cleared by the Cauvery tribunal in 2007 and by the Supreme Court in 2018. Still, why is the government dragging its feet?
The state government is working on it. There is movement at various levels in Delhi. The Mekedatu project is being taken up only to take our legally allocated share of Cauvery waters. The project will help Bengaluru.

Many in Karnataka are not happy with interlinking of rivers involving Cauvery.
Karnataka was not happy with the linking of Cauvery, Vaigai and Gundar rivers, as Tamil Nadu is seeking to utilise excess water there. Karnataka will take it up legally as being an upper riparian state, it has a right over excess waters.

Environmentalists are pointing to PH levels of different rivers and are expressing concern over loss of land to create canals, reservoirs, etc
If water is brought to areas that are drought-prone and are perennially short of this precious resource, is it not good? On the argument over PH value, there are no problems with freshwater, and issues will arise only if saltwater or brackish water is mixed. Experts are looking into all these finer points.



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