CHENNAI: Another inter-State water dispute with neighbouring Karnataka has assumed centre-stage on Saturday with political parties protesting against a new dam built across the Markandeya river, a tributary of the Thenpennai, which would affect irrigation and drinking water requirements of six districts in Tamil Nadu. Water Resources Minister Durai Murugan has said the dispute would be resolved through a tribunal.
Referring to reports that Karnataka has completed the construction of a dam at Yarkol village across the Markandeya, Durai Murugan said the State would urge the Union government to constitute an inter-State Water Disputes Tribunal expeditiously to resolve the dispute.
“The Tamil Nadu government, in its communication dated June 29 to the Union Jal Shakti Ministry, had reiterated its demand for early constitution of the Tribunal. The new dam by Karnataka will affect irrigation in 870 hectares of lands in Krishnagiri district. This issue will be resolved only through the Tribunal,” the minister said in a statement.
Durai Murugan further said the State would take appropriate steps to safeguard the rights of farmers and the public who depend on the water from the Markandeya river, which originates in Karnataka and flows into the Pennaiyar river in Tamil Nadu.
One year on since request, tribunal to solve issue yet to become a reality
When the engineers of the Central Water Commission inspected the works for the new dam in 2017, Karnataka said the dam with 0.5 tmcft storage capacity was being constructed to fulfil the drinking water requirements of the people in the area and to fortify the groundwater. In 2019, Karnataka announced that the construction of this dam was almost over. Tamil Nadu has been consistently opposing this and a petition was also filed before the Supreme Court on May 18, 2018. Later, on an interim petition, the apex court directed that a Tribunal should be constituted to resolve this issue.
In 2019, Tamil Nadu urged the Union government to constitute the Tribunal at the earliest. As per the inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956, the Union government should constitute a Tribunal within a year from the date of request. However, it is yet to become a reality.
Farmers’ associations have been opposing the new dam since it will affect irrigation and drinking water requirements of six districts – Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Kallakurichi, Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram and Cuddalore.
MDMK general secretary Vaiko said a committee comprising of representatives from AP, Karnataka and Puducherry was formed to hold talks on the issue, which submitted its report to the Union government on July 31, 2020, recommending the formation of the Tribunal. “The Union government has dragged the issue without taking a decision for one full year, thus committing a betrayal to Tamil Nadu. I urge the present government to check the storing of Thenpennai river water at the new dam,” he added.
CPI State secretary R Mutharasan said, “On such occasions, the Union government should take an impartial stand and resolve the issue. But the BJP-led government is siding with Karnataka. TN should initiate a legal battle against their illegal activities.”
‘Union govt at fault’
CPI state secretary R Mutharasan charged that the BJP-led Union government sided with Karnataka, while PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss blamed the Union government for delaying the formation of a Tribunal
Yeddy writes to Stalin
Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa on Saturday wrote to his TN counterpart MK Stalin over the Mekedatu project. In his two-page letter, he suggested bilateral meeting between them to address any apprehension