'Markandeya project to reduce drinking water problems'

The project with a capacity of 500 mcft was undertaken by Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board, Bengaluru. File photo

The Karnataka government has told the Supreme Court that the Markandeya project, commenced in Yargol village with an estimated cost of Rs 240 crore since 2009, was meant to alleviate drinking water problems of Kolar, Bangarpet, Mallur towns.

Since it is a drinking water project, there was no requirement to intimate Tamil Nadu or take its consent as per 1933 agreement.

The Karnataka government filed its statement of objections to the Tamil Nadu's plea to restrain it from proceeding further in the construction of the dam across Markandeyanadhi. It said, Tamil Nadu has not come with clean hands and suppressed materials fact. The application has been filed only to harass the state of Karnataka.

“If Tamil Nadu's plea is granted, the state would be put to great injury and hardship, as it has already spent several crores on the construction of the drinking water supply project,” the Karnataka government said.

A bench of Justices U U Lalit and Vineet Saran, which took up the matter on Friday, granted time to Tamil Nadu to respond to the Karnataka's contention. The court put the matter for consideration on August 20.

The Karnataka government said the Centre has granted clearance to the project on December 4, 2012. “Tamil Nadu was aware of the project which commenced way back in 2009. But for reasons best known to it, the state did not initiate any action and allowed Karnataka to proceed with the drinking water project till 2018,” the state government said.

In its application, the Tamil Nadu government claimed the completion of the construction of the dam across Markandeyanadhi with a height of 50m dam and length of of about 400m would completely impound the flows and would jeopardize the existing irrigation and drinking water needs of the state.

In its response, the Karnataka government said, for the project it was not utilising the regular rain flow water. On the contrary, major portion of Bengaluru falls outside the Cauvery basin. In deciding inter-state water dispute between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, the Supreme Court has allocated an additional 4.75 tmc water for consumptive (drinking purpose) use for Bengaluru.

Of sewage water generated outside the Cauvery basin of Bengaluru and being treated by BWSSB and being utilised for filling up tanks and recharging the groundwater, similarly the same was being used for Markandeya project, it said.

“The project is under completion and in addition to that, towns of Kolar, Bangarpet, Mallur and 45 en-route villages have been suffering from a shortage of drinking water and, therefore, people in this area would be deprived of drinking water, if the court allowed the Tamil Nadu's plea,” it said.

The groundwater exploitation in those areas has been recorded as 50 to 85 % and those have been declared as grey areas. There is non-availability of potable groundwater in bore wells.

The project with a capacity of 500 mcft was undertaken by Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board, Bengaluru. In this regard, 70 to 75% of work has been completed, it said.

After initial approval in 2007, the state made a budgetary allocation of Rs 160 crore while the Union government 79.92 crore. For the purpose of the project, 375.37 acres of land has been acquired, of which 127 acres is of farmers and 153 acres of forest, which has been cleared by the Union government's Ministry of Forest and Environment. The remaining 95 acres is 'gomala' (grazing) land.


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