The Karnataka government Thursday asserted that the proposed Mekedatu project was the “right” of the state and its “lifetime dream” but sought to reach out to Tamil Nadu, which is strongly opposed to the scheme.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy held consultations with his predecessors and former water resource ministers on irrigation schemes, even as the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed an unanimous resolution urging the Centre to withdraw the permission given to Karnataka for a detailed project report for its proposed dam across the Cauvery at Mekedattu.
“It is the right of our state, we don’t want tofight or have misunderstanding with anyone on this issue.
It is a balancing reservoir, there is no question of us misusing it,” Karnataka water resources minister D K Shivakumar told reporters here after the meeting.
“We request them (Tamil Nadu), they are like our brothers, we are friends.. we have to share this water… we don’t want to fight with them,” he said in response to a question about Tamil Nadu rejecting the state’s request for talks to clear doubts on the project.
The meeting was attended by former chief ministers Siddaramaiah and Jagadish Shettar, and former water resource ministers Allam Veerabadhrappa, K S Eshwarappa, H K Patil, M B Patil, Basavaraj Bommai, also technical and legal experts.
A specially convened session of the Tamil Nadu assembly Thursday passed the resolution moved by chief minister K Palaniswami, asking the Union Ministry of Water Resources “to immediately order the Central Water Commission to withdraw the permission given to Karnataka for preparing the DPR (detailed project report).”
The previous Siddaramaiah government had decided to implement the Rs 5,912 crore Mekedatu Multipurpose (drinking and power) project, which involves building a balancing reservoir with a capacity of about 66 tmcft, near Kanakapura in Ramanagaram district.
The minister said the state government was preparing the DPR and was taking all necessary steps to protect the interest of the state in accordance with law.
“With utmost humility I appeal that both of us (Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) should work together in protecting the interest of our people,” Shivakumar said.
He noted that that the “key” to release water to Tamil Nadu according to the Cauvery verdict was with the Cauvery Management Board and not with the Karnataka government.
“There will be no question of us misusing things in anyway…so, going to the Supreme Court against the project or bringing political pressure is not lawful,” he said.
He said he along with a team of officials would visit the site of the project Friday. Shivakumar made it clear that there was no scope to explore possibility forirrigation in the area, which is the main contention of Tamil Nadu.
He said “there are about 4,996 hectares of land that comeunder the proposed project area. Out of that 280 hecatares is revenueland, about 500 or 600 acres of farmers land may be there.”
The minister said, Karnataka was ready to make presentation on the project to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and his cabinet colleagues, and the state government has also appealed to the Centre to call a meeting of both states to sort out the issue.
Shivakumar said he had written to Palaniswami and said there was no meaning in “unnecessarily objecting to the project. The project was being done within our state and with our money and without violating the judgment of the Supreme Court on the Cauvery dispute.”
In his letter, Shivakumar said, “The government desires to have an amicable solution.
It appears that some misconceptions about the proposed project have occurred in government’s and Tamil Nadu people’s mind though actual reality of the project is different.”
In view of Tamil Nadu approaching the Supreme Court for stay on the permission given by the Central Water Commission to Karnataka to go ahead with the DPR, the state government has instructed its legal team to take all necessary steps to lawfully protect the interest of the state.
Shivakumar said Tamil Nadu would get “95 per cent benefit” from the project, while Karnataka would benefit by generating electricity.
Shivakumar said, he was “shocked” that Tamil Nadu has convened a special assembly session on the issue.
He also said the state government was taking all necessary steps with regard to Krishna and Mahadayi water issues to protect the state’s interest.