The Mekedatu dam project, located in the Ramanagaram district about 100 km south of Bengaluru, near the entry point of the Cauvery River into Tamil Nadu, has become a longstanding source of contention between the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu state governments.
Recently, just 10 days after the Congress government in Karnataka assumed power, a conflict emerged between the two states regarding a project aimed at supplying drinking water to Bengaluru. Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister, D K Shivakumar, expressed the intention to construct a dam and reservoir at Mekedatu on the Cauvery River, near the border with Tamil Nadu. However, Durai Murugan, the water resources minister of Tamil Nadu, responded by stating that the Mekedatu project was not authorized by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) or the Supreme Court (SC) ruling.
Durai Murugan emphasized that any unauthorized construction could harm Tamil Nadu and would be in violation of the final orders issued by the CWDT in 2007 and the SC in 2018. The opposition party in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK, also voiced their concerns and warned of protests if Karnataka proceeded with the construction. AIADMK’s general secretary, K Palaniswami, argued that Karnataka is legally prohibited from obstructing or altering the natural course of a river according to the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956. Palaniswami referred to the final judgment on the Cauvery water dispute, asserting that the consent of lower riparian states is necessary for any irrigation project to commence.
The Mekedatu dam project has a proposed capacity of 48 TMC (thousand million cubic) feet and an estimated cost of Rs 6,000 crore. It aims to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and replenish the regional groundwater table. The project had received clearance for a feasibility study from the Central Water Commission (CWC) in 2018. Karnataka’s Deputy Chief Minister, D K Shivakumar, stated that Rs 1,000 crore has been allocated for the project and expressed readiness to hold talks with Tamil Nadu on the Mekedatu issue.
Opposition to the Mekedatu project has a history dating back several years. In 2015, Tamil Nadu witnessed widespread protests against the dam, resulting in a statewide bandh supported by various stakeholders. The Tamil Nadu state Assembly passed resolutions against the project in December 2018 and January 2022. In August 2021, Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court, arguing that Karnataka’s construction of two reservoirs on the Cauvery River violates the final award of the CWDT and would impact the downstream flow of water.
Overall, the Mekedatu dam project remains a contentious issue between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. While Karnataka argues that the project will not affect the agreed water flow to Tamil Nadu and will not be used for irrigation purposes, Tamil Nadu insists that it would disrupt the river’s natural flow and contravene existing orders and agreements.
Tag: State, Karnataka, Tamilnadu