Mekedatu: Nod to ready DPR, not for project, SC told

Mekedatu: Nod to ready DPR, not for project, SC told

WATER DISPUTE: The spot, where Karnataka proposes to construct a dam at Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk of Ramanagara district. DH File Photo

The Centre has told the Supreme 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.

“The conditional clearance is only for preparing the detailed project report (DPR) and it, in no way, conveys clearance by the central government or the Central Water Commission for construction of the project,” the Ministry of Water Resources said in an affidavit.

The Centre claimed that the contention made by Tamil Nadu that it was not consulted was not true, saying the feasibility report was shared on August 24, last. It reiterated that the in-principle clearance of the detailed project report was subject to Karnataka resolving the inter-state matters amicably.

The Mekedatu project, intended to meet drinking water needs, is proposed to be built across the Cauvery river with gross storage of 67.16 tmc ft and live storage of 66.85 tmc ft, with an installed power generation 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 the “unauthorised” Mekedatu project.

In response to the apex court's notice, the Centre maintained that the in-principle clearance to the DPR was granted in terms of the 'guidelines of submission, appraisal and acceptance of irrigation and multi-purpose project-2017'.

“However, technical parameters have not been finalised and fixed at this stage,” it said.

Besides, the Union government said the acceptance by Cauvery Water Management Authority would be the “pre-requisite” for consideration of the DPR for techno-economic approval by the advisory committee of the ministry.

Maintaining that the Central Water Commission held all institutions of importance with great respect, the government said, “It is fully conscious of the interests of farmers of Cauvery delta and it will not permit any action to be taken against the interest of these farmers.”

In fact, the conditional clearance to Karnataka was based on the premise that the balancing reservoir will help the state in fulfilling its obligation to Tamil Nadu for the mandated release of Cauvery water, it said.

The Karnataka government, on its part, had earlier told the court that Tamil Nadu had filed a plea with a mala fide intention to prevent it from preparing DPR. It described the grievances made by Tamil Nadu as “false, frivolous and vexatious” and an attempt to seek a “re-hearing” of the case.