Mekedatu project will benefit Tamil Nadu also, says DKS

Mekedatu project will benefit Tamil Nadu also, says DKS

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar shows the place where the proposed Mekedatu reservoir will come up. MP D K Suresh is seen.DH photo

Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar on Friday said that he was confident that the Tamil Nadu government would extend it’s support for the implementation of the controversial Mekedatu balancing reservoir and drinking water project.

The minister, who inspected the project site along with a massive official and media entourage, said that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami would soon respond to his letter, seeking a meeting for discussing the project.

“He is good friend - he will agree to meet us and visit the project site. I am confident,” he added.

Shivakumar however wondered why the neighbouring state was opposing the project. “This project will actually benefit Tamil Nadu more than Karnataka. The stored water at the balancing reservoir will come to Tamil Nadu’s rescue during deficit rains. But I can’t understand why the state has to oppose the project. We are very clear in our mind. We have no intentions of misusing the water,” he said.

When asked about the contempt petition filed by Tamil Nadu in the Supreme Court against him and the Central Water Commission Chairman, Shivakumar said that Palaniswami may have done it owing to “political pressure.”

“He is also under a lot of political pressure. In addition to this, there are misconceptions that Karnataka will start irrigation activities by using the stored water in the proposed site. I want to make it clear that we have no such intentions. Not only is the irrigation project feasible, the farmers are quite content with their sericulture activities. They have no desire to grow paddy or any other crop,” he said.

Shivakumar also conceded that only half the battle was won, with the CWC giving a go-ahead to Karnataka to prepare a detailed project report for the project.

“It’s a full bench judgement. But we will have to convince the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) that the drinking water project is the need of the hour, especially for a city like Bengaluru. After all, this might be one of the last such hydel/drinking water projects that Karnataka will be taking up,” he said.

Stating that the DPR would be prepared at the earliest, Shivakumar said that his department had sought an exemption under the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act, for speedy implementation of the project. 

As per the preliminary report, the project cost was estimated to be Rs 5,912 crore. The minister said that there might be a 10% cost escalation now, owing to the delay.

The state government has proposed to build a 67.16 tmc capacity reservoir across Cauvery river between Mekedatu and Sangam. It wants to utilise the additional 4.75 tmc water as per the modified allocation of drinking water to Bengaluru and it’s neighbouring districts.

Along with the drinking water project, the department has also envisioned a 400 MW hydel power station at the site.

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