Karnataka, TN lock horns over Mekedatu hydel power project

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Bangalore, Sept 10:Seeking to counter Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, Karnataka government today defended its proposal to build a reservoir across the Cauvery river at Mekedatu to generate hydro-electric power, saying it is in conformity with the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

“I had not said anything new. It’s there (in conformity with) in the Order”, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra told reporters here, as he stuck to his recent statement.

“I am reiterating what’s said in the tribunal order”, he added, as he read out certain portions of the order to defend the proposal.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting his intervention, Jayalalithaa had taken exception to the proposal and wanted the Centre to instruct Karnataka not to take up any schemes in the Cauvery, including hydro-electric projects, without the prior consent of her State.

Jayachandra said he has brought it to the notice of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah vis-a-vis the proposed project and would take it to the Cabinet and apprise the legal position on the matter.

He said he would also discuss the issue with the legal team fighting the state’s case on Cauvery river water sharing pending in Supreme Court and also “legal luminaries”.

“What’s wrong in going before the government of India and preparing the project”, the Minister asked.

Jayalalithaa had urged the Prime Minister to advise the Ministry of Environment and Forests not to accord clearance to any projects of Karnataka in the river till the Cauvery Management Board is formed.

She said in the letter: “The proposed reservoirs near Mekedatu are new schemes [and] not contemplated in the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal,” adding, as the Tribunal had prescribed the total quantity of water to be used for consumptive use, this proposal was “wholly illegal”.

The move would affect the natural flow of the Cauvery river considerably and severely affect irrigation in Tamil Nadu, the Chief Minister said, adding the proposal was causing alarm and apprehension.

Karnataka irrigation department officials have said the long-pending extension, renovation and modernisation projects of the Cauvery basin would be taken up for approval of the government of India, in conformity with the Cauvery award.

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