Tamil Nadu: All-party delegation to meet Union water minister to stop Mekedatu dam

The meeting would bring no good to Tamil Nadu, said PR Pandian of the Tamizhaga Cauvery Farmers Association.

ByUmar Sharieef

Published Jun 23, 2022 | 2:26 PMUpdatedJul 22, 2022 | 11:17 AM

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin (Official Facebook Page)

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, on 18 June, announced that a delegation of the legislature party led by the state’s Water Resources Minister Duraimurugan would meet Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat in Delhi.

Stalin’s decision comes after the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) Chairperson SK Haldar stated that the it would discuss the Mekedatu dam issue on 23 June.

However, Tamizhaga Cauvery Farmers Association general secretary PR Pandian told South First, “The meeting with the Jal Shakti minister will not bring any good to the state as the CWMA designated to make a decision can conclude based on the points listed by the member states and the Union government’s representative in authority could act as an observer.”

‘Comparatively small step’

Pandian said the Tamil Nadu government was taking a small step compared to the Karnataka government’s decision to subvert the CWMA’s power and approach the Jal Shakti minister.

“The Tamil Nadu government is doing what the neighbouring state did. The meeting with the minister is nothing but a political move. The government must act in a way that brings solutions to the issue,” Pandian told South First.

“The DMK government failed to listen to the farmers’ demand for their inclusion in the delegation of Tamil Nadu to meet the minister,” he added.

He also said it was essential for the government to have office bearers and apolitical farmers in the delegation panel to fulfil the objective.

‘Will not allow Mekedatu dam’

“We have sought an appointment with Jal Shakti minister in Delhi. The delegation will visit Delhi once the minister gives an appointment,” Stalin said.

He added, “We will not let Karnataka construct a dam at Mekedatu. The Tamil Nadu government will continue to protect the state’s rights over the Cauvery water at the Supreme Court.”

He also asked: “Does the CWMA have the power to make arbitrary decisions when the matter is pending before the apex court, knowing that the chairman asserted that the authority would discuss the Mekedatu issue, which is a violation of the law?”

Bommai talks to Shekhawat

It may be noted that the Tamil Nadu government moved the Supreme Court on 7 June last year seeking a judicial order to restrain Karnataka from proceeding with the project.

Subsequently, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai called on Shekhawat on 20 May in Delhi to execute the project.

“The Mekedatu issue is included in the CWMA agenda. I will take a final decision regarding the project,” Bommai told reporters at the time.

Why TN opposes Mekedatu dam

Mekedatu is a multipurpose drinking-water and power project proposed by Karnataka.

It involves building a balancing reservoir near the town of Kanakapura in the Ramanagara district of Karnataka.

Stalin, in his speech at an all-party meet on 12 July last year, said, “Karnataka is supposed to release Cauvery water from three sources: 1) The water flowing in the areas downstream River Kabini, catchment areas of Krishnarajasagar reservoir, the sub-basins of Shimsha, Arkavathi, and Suvarnavathi rivers, and the water from minor rivers; 2) water released from Kabini dam; 3) water released from Krishnarajasagar dam.”

He explained: “Since there is no dam on the first source, water from this area has been reaching Tamil Nadu without any hindrance. Now, Karnataka is conspiring to block this source in the guise of the Mekedatu dam.”

The Mekedatu project, once completed, will ensure drinking water to Bengaluru and neighbouring areas (4.75 TMC) and can also generate 400 MW of power. The estimated cost of the project is ₹9,000 crore.

The office of the Principal Secretary for Water Resources in Tamil Nadu refused to comment on the issue.