Hogenakal on fire

The Karnataka government has finally woken up from its slumber and decided to approach the supreme court over the Hogenakal drinking water project being implemented by Tamil Nadu. It was an inevitable course of action after the neighbouring state showed no inclination to either assuage Karnataka’s apprehensions or come forward for a discussion. In the light of new-found bonhomie between the two states after resolution of the dispute over installation of Thiruvallavar statue in Bangalore and Sarvagna statue in Chennai, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa had hoped that he could persuade his Tamil Nadu counterpart M Karunanidhi to discuss the Hogenakal issue in a spirit of give-and-take, but obviously Tamil Nadu has gone back to its hardline stance where water sharing is concerned. After making several attempts to initiate talks and getting no response, the Yeddyurappa government is left with little option but to seek the intervention of the supreme court.

As the objections raised by both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the award of the Bachawat Water Disputes Tribunal are pending before the apex court, no party was expected to initiate any action that would further compound the matters. But, in an unilateral decision, the Tamil Nadu government laid the foundation for the Rs 1,928 crore Hogenakal drinking water and fluorosis mitigation project in February, 2008 and has reportedly completed about 25 per cent of the project work. Karnataka’s contention is that the project is being executed in ‘disputed territory’ as the state’s petition sent to the Surveyor General of India to initiate a joint verification of the inter-state boundary at Hogenakal is still pending with the SGI. Karnataka also suspects that the project approved by the Centre in 1998 has been redrawn by Tamil Nadu government to utilise 2.1 tmc ft of water as against the sanctioned 1.4 tmc ft. Tamil Nadu, on its part, has been refuting these charges and going ahead with the project’s implementation.
As the Manmohan Singh government is beholden to DMK patriarch Karunanidhi for its own survival and unable to act against the gravest of corruption and non-performance charges against some of DMK’s Union ministers, Karnataka cannot expect the Centre to intervene dispassionately in this matter. Karnataka’s only option now is to approach the supreme court as expeditiously as possible and hope that the court will halt the project until the issue is legally sorted out.

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