The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted four weeks time to Tamil Nadu and other Cauvery basin states respond to a detailed project report prepared by the Karnataka government on a conditional nod received for the Mekedatu reservoir project.
A bench presided over by Justice A M Khanwilkar allowed a plea by the Tamil Nadu government which sought the time to study the detailed project report given by the Karnataka government to the Central Water Commission. The court granted permission to Kerala and Puducherry to file their response.
The Mekedatu project, intended to meet drinking water needs, is proposed to be built across the Cauvery river with a gross storage of 67.16 tmc and live storage of 66.85 TMC with installed capacity of 400 MW at an estimated cost of Rs 5,912 crore.
Tamil Nadu filed a plea before the top court, claiming the Mekedatu project in its present form violated the decisions of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal of 2007 and apex court of 2018 for equitable apportionment of the river water. It was aggrieved with the order issued on November 22 by the Director, Project Appraisal (South), Central Water Commission with regard to "unauthorised" Mekedatu project.
In a response, the Union government had told the court that in-principle clearance for preparing a detailed project report on Mekedatu balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project to Karnataka was granted subject to resolution of the inter-state matters amicably.
In fact, the conditional clearance to Karnataka was based on the premise the balancing reservoir would help the state in fulfilling its obligation to Tamil Nadu for mandated release of Cauvery water, it said.
The Karnataka government, for its part, had earlier told the court that Tamil Nadu had filed a plea with a mala fide intention to prevent it from preparing detailed project report. It described the grievances made by Tamil Nadu as "false, frivolous and vexatious” and an attempt to seek a “re-hearing” of the case.