SC refuses to stay K’taka’s DPR on Mekedatu project

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to allow a plea by Tamil Nadu government for stay against a permission granted to Karnataka to prepare a detailed project report for Mekedatu balancing reservoir across Cauvery river.

The top court, however, asked the Union government and Karnataka to file a response within four weeks on Tamil Nadu’s application for restraining the upper riparian state from undertaking the exercise.

Reply sought

A bench presided over by Justice A M Khanwilkar also sought a reply from the Centre and Karnataka on another plea by Tamil Nadu for a direction to the Union government to appoint an independent and full-time chairman of the Cauvery Water Management Authority, approved by the apex court on May 18 and notified by the Centre on
June 1.

During the hearing, Karnataka’s Advocate General Udaya Holla contended the application by Tamil Nadu was premature as it was only a permission to prepare a detailed project report, subject to conditions, and the views of the co-basin states would have to be
taken.

“So it is only a detailed project report. No final decision has been taken,” the
bench said.

The Union government, represented by advocate, S Wasim A Qadri said the project could be subject to the orders of the apex court. He, however, sought time to file his response.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the Tamil Nadu government, submitted if the Centre was willing to give such an assurance, it should be recorded by the court. He said the state did not want any fait accompli.

The court finally decided to seek reply from the Centre and the Karnataka government on applications by Tamil Nadu as its counsel contended the project would violate the orders passed by the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal and the apex court’s judgement.

The Tamil Nadu government was aggrieved with the order issued on November 22 by the Director, Project Appraisal (South), Central Water Commission, with regard to “unauthorised” Mekedatu balancing reservoir
project.

Besides, it filed a plea seeking a direction to the Union government to appoint an independent person as chairman of the Cauvery
Authority.

The Ministry of Water Resources had on July 7 issued orders allowing S Masood Husain, chairman of the Central Water Commission (CWC), to hold additional charge as head of the authority.

Fresh plea

The Tamil Nadu government also filed a fresh plea before the court seeking contempt action against senior officers of the Centre and the Karnataka government for going ahead with Mekedatu project.

On Wednesday, the top court, however, adjourned the hearing on the contempt plea as it decided to examine two other applications.

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SC refuses to stay K’taka’s DPR on Mekedatu project

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