State defends decision to create Mekedatu reservoir

The State government on Tuesday defended its proposal to build a reservoir at Mekedatu by claiming that the move conforms to the final award of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

The reservoir is intended to cater to a hydel power-generating plant in the area. Speaking to reporters in Bangalore, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said that the Cauvery River Water Tribunal award has provisions for the setting up of hydel power projects — subject to the condition that it does not affect the flow of water downstream.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha, however, had recently written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking directions to Karnataka not to take up any schemes in the Cauvery, including hydro-electric projects, without the prior consent of Tamil Nadu. Mekedatu is close to Biligundlu on the inter-state border, at the entry point of the Cauvery into Tamil Nadu.

Describing the project as illegal, Jayalalitha had also asked the Prime Minister to direct the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests not to clear the project as it does not have the prior consent of Tamil Nadu, the lower riparian state.

Jayachandra read a portion of the award to defend the State’s move. He said he would also discuss the issue with legal experts and with the State’s legal team fighting the Cauvery river water-sharing issue which is pending in Supreme Court. Jayachandra said he had briefed Chief Minister Siddaramaiah about the proposed project and same would be placed before the State Cabinet soon.

It is said Siddaramaiah had recently taken exception to the fact that Jayachandra had gone to the press on Mekedatu before briefing him.

Replying to queries, Jayachandra said he had recently met Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and sought a Rs 500-cr compensation package for arecanut growers who are in distress over the outbreak of a fruit rod epidemic.

The Centre has promised to send a team to visit drought-hit taluks in the State. Karnataka had sought relief from the Centre as drought has affected 80 taluks for the third consecutive year.

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