Cabinet approves 5,912-cr Mekedatu reservoir project

Cabinet approves 5,912-cr Mekedatu reservoir project
The Cabinet on Wednesday gave in-principle approval for implementing the long-pending Mekedatu multipurpose project utilising the Cauvery river water at a cost of Rs 5,912 crore.

Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said the project will help Karnataka utilise excess river water that, otherwise, goes waste to the sea.

A balancing reservoir with 66.50 tmcft capacity will be built across the river near Mekedatu in Ramanagaram district. A 400 megawatt-capacity hydropower unit will also come up as part of the project, he said.

The government has plans to utilise water stored in the proposed Mekedatu reservoir for supplying drinking water to citizens in Bengaluru and nearby towns. About 4,900 hectares of forest land have to be acquired for the project. But the government can implement the project only after obtaining permission from the Cauvery Supervisory Committee and the Central Water Commission, he said.

The project has failed to take off with Tamil Nadu opposing it stiffly. The neighbouring state had petitioned to the Centre in the past, urging it to stop the project. Besides, the Tamil Nadu legislature had passed a unanimous resolution opposing it. But Karnataka government has been arguing that it would use only the excess water after releasing 192 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu as stipulated by the Cauvery river water disputes tribunal.

Jayachandra said the project will be beneficial to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “A lot of water goes waste every year in the absence of a balancing reservoir in a normal year,” he said.

Karnataka ends up releasing excess water to Tamil Nadu from its four reservoirs. And there is no scope for expanding the KRS and the Kabini reservoirs. Hence, it is important to take up this project,” he stated.

The Cabinet also approved a proposal to regularise illegal residential houses built on government land measuring up to 30x40 square feet each in buffer zones under Section 94cc of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act. But within the limits of urban local bodies, houses built on plots measuring up to 30x20 square feet will be regularised, he added.

He said the Cabinet approved a proposal to set up an aerospace and defence centre of excellence at Muddenahalli in Chikkaballapur district. Dassault System will set up the centre with the assistance of Visvesvaraya Technological University. The centre envisages imparting training in aerospace sector, he added.
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