'Tribunal order no hurdle in State taking up new projects'

TN opposes K'taka's move to build hydel reserviours across Cauvery

'Tribunal order no hurdle in State taking up new projects'

Even though the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha has raised objections to Karnataka’s plans to construct hydel reservoirs across the Cauvery river and modernise canals within its territory, the final award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal does not prevent the State from constructing any new projects within its boundary.

The Tribunal order clearly states that upper riparian states have to ensure the release of water to lower riparian states as per the allocation made in its final order. However, the upper riparian states after ensuring water to lower riparian states, are free to utilise their water without any hindrance.

The Tribunal, which allocated water to all the states, Kerala (30 tmc), Karnataka (270 tmc), Tamil Nadu (419 tmc) and Puducherry (7 tmc) of the total available 726 tmc feet of water in the entire Cauvery basin areas, said in the clause 18 of its final order that states have to adhere to its order on the quantum of water to be released from the upper riparian states to lower riparian states.

However, the order says “the Tribunal shall not impair the right or power or authority of any states to regulate within its boundaries the use of water or to enjoy the benefit of waters within the state”.

Legal view

As the two proposed hydel projects at Mekedatu and Shivanasamudra falls within the territory of Karnataka, the State is free to build these projects subject to environmental clearances.

“The Tamil Nadu government has no right to object to these two projects of Karnataka” said Mohan Katarki, advocate from the Karnataka legal team which is handling inter-state water dispute cases.

The clause V and VI of the final award only says that in a normal year, Karnataka has to ensure that 192 tmc feet of water from its Cauvery basin should flow to Tamil Nadu when it is measured at Biligundlu monitoring point located in Tamil Nadu. Out of 192 tmc feet, 182 tmc feet will be Tamil Nadu’s share while the remaining 10 tmc feet will be for environmental purposes in a year.

“The Karnataka’s responsibility ends once 192 tmc feet of water passes through Biligundlu gauge during normal year. Karnataka can utilise rest of the water the way it wants,” Katarki told Deccan Herald.

On common reach

He pointed out that even as per the clause XIII of the final award, if both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu plan to construct hydel power projects on common reach of the river, they can approach National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) to construct run-of-the-river project without giving scope for storing huge quantity of water.

As the Cauvery flows along the 29-km Karnataka-Tamil Nadu borders, both the states with mutual consultation can ask the NHPC to build a power project to tap hydro power.  On this 29 km-length of the river, no state can unilaterally build any projects, he explained.

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