The Mekedatu project has recently become a topic of discussion in the news, with Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister, D K Shivakumar, advocating for the construction of a balancing reservoir across the Cauvery River near Kanakapura. Shivakumar, who is also the Karnataka Congress president and an MLA from Kanakapura, emphasized the need for the project’s preparations and highlighted its potential benefits for both Bengaluru and the farmers in Tamil Nadu.
Background of the Mekedatu Project
The Mekedatu project aims to create a balancing reservoir on the Cauvery River in Karnataka. It involves the construction of a reservoir near the town of Kanakapura, which would help regulate water flow and provide drinking water to Bengaluru, the capital city of Karnataka. Additionally, the project intends to support agricultural activities in the Cauvery basin and ensure water availability for farmers in both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Karnataka’s Efforts and Tamil Nadu’s Concerns
Deputy Chief Minister Shivakumar highlighted the Karnataka government’s commitment to the Mekedatu project. He mentioned that during a water march in 2021, the then-Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had allocated ₹1,000 crore for the project. However, the funds have yet to be utilized. Shivakumar assured that the project would not adversely affect Tamil Nadu and emphasized the importance of cooperation between the two states.
Reassurance and Mutual Benefits
Shivakumar stated that the Mekedatu project was not driven by animosity or conflict with Tamil Nadu but rather aimed to benefit both regions. He emphasized that the project’s implementation would provide assistance to all farmers in the Cauvery basin. Additionally, he addressed concerns about water availability by assuring that the project had been approved in the Cauvery Tribunal award and would adhere to water release orders.
Seeking Tamil Nadu’s Support
The Deputy Chief Minister called upon the Tamil Nadu government to be supportive of the Mekedatu project, urging them to consider its potential advantages. Shivakumar emphasized that setting up a power plant in Tamil Nadu would not be detrimental to the state’s interests. He appealed for a harmonious approach, emphasizing the shared heritage and brotherhood between the people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Mekedatu Project: History
The Mekedatu project has a history that spans several years, characterized by disputes and discussions between the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Here is a brief overview of the project’s history:
Background of the Cauvery River Dispute: The Cauvery River is a major water resource shared between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, along with other states. Disputes over the sharing of Cauvery River water have a long history and have been a contentious issue between the two states for decades.
- 2007 Proposal and Objections: In 2007, the Karnataka government proposed the construction of a balancing reservoir at Mekedatu, near the confluence of the Cauvery and Arkavathi rivers. The reservoir was intended to regulate water flow and provide drinking water to Bengaluru.
However, Tamil Nadu strongly objected to the project, arguing that it would affect their share of Cauvery water and impact agricultural activities in the state. Tamil Nadu maintained that any new projects on the Cauvery River should be approved by the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal.
- Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal Award: The Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal, constituted in 1990, issued its final award in 2007. The tribunal allocated the Cauvery River water among the riparian states, including Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, while also considering the water needs of other states.
- Legal Challenges and Delays: Following the tribunal’s award, both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu filed appeals challenging various aspects of the allocation. The legal battles and appeals led to delays in the implementation of the Mekedatu project.
However, Tamil Nadu has strongly opposed the project, asserting that it would impact their water rights and exacerbate water scarcity in the state. The issue has sparked tensions and disagreements between the governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.