Lodging a strong protest over Karnataka’s plans to construct an ‘illegal’ hydro power project at Mekedatu and three reservoirs for this purpose across Cauvery, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to prevent the neighbouring state from proceeding with it.
Mekedatu is close to Biligundulu, the entry point of Cauvery into Tamil Nadu, on the inter-state border.
The Chief Minister also asked the PM to direct the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests not to accord clearance to such ‘illegal’ projects as it does not have prior consent of Tamil Nadu, the lower riparian State.
“The proposal of Karnataka is completely illegal and is causing great alarm and apprehension in Tamil Nadu, as it would affect the natural flow of Cauvery river considerably and would severely affect the irrigation in Tamil Nadu,” the Chief Minister said.
“The proposed reservoirs are new schemes not contemplated in the final order of the Cauvery Tribunal. Besides, the Tribunal had prescribed the total quantity of water to be used for consumptive use,” the Chief Minister said in her letter dated September 2, to the Prime Minister.
In this connection, she referred to media reports that Karnataka has proposed to utilise the surplus water of the Hemavathy and the Krishnarajasagar reservoirs at an estimated cost of Rs 500 crore to Rs 600 crore for drinking water schemes.
The Chief Minister pointed out that her repeated request to him to instruct the Ministry of Water Resources to constitute the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, for ensuring the effective implementation of the final order of the Tribunal, was yet to be acceded to. “In the absence of such a monitoring mechanism, the stand of Karnataka Minister that there is no impediment to executing the scheme of construction of a reservoir as the final order has been notified is wholly untenable,” she said and added that in a federal structure, no upper riparian State could unilaterally interfere with the natural flow of an inter-State river without the consent and concurrence of the lower riparian State.
The Chief Minister also recalled that Tamil Nadu had filed an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court to restrain the Karnataka government from executing the Shivasamudram and Mekedatu hydro electric projects on its own. It had also sought a direction to the Centre to execute the Shivasamudram, Mekedatu, Hogenakkal and Rasimanal hydel projects as a package through the National Hydro Power Corporation Limited or any other appropriate Central Power Generation utility so as to derive the maximum power potential. The civil appeals as well as the interlocutory application were pending in the SC and therefore, the entire matter is sub judice.