The Karnataka government has embarked on taking a series of actions for the construction of a dam across the Cauvery river at Mekedatu. The Supreme Court has already passed an order, quoting the final verdict of the Cauvery Water Tribunal, no project should be executed across the Cauvery river without the consent of riparian states.
But brushing aside the top court’s verdict the Karnataka government is firm on building a dam across the river at Mekedatu. The Karnataka government has written a letter to the central government seeking the clearance of the environment ministry for constructing the Mekedatu dam to tackle the drought and to solve the drinking water crisis in that state.
The central government’s nod for the Mekedatu dam, which has already given permission to take up hydrocarbon exploration in the delta districts, is an act which will result in the desertification of Tamil Nadu. This will never be allowed by Tamil Nadu. Therefore, the central government should reject the Mekedatu dam project.
Otherwise, this will further complicate the dispute between the two states on the sharing of Cauvery water. The Karnataka government has raised the project cost of Mekedatu dam to Rs.9000 crores as against the original allocation of Rs.5912 crores.
This will help to augment the irrigation area and expand the catchment area. The Karnataka government has stated that the project would be completed within four years’ time and a 400 MW hydro power station would also be established.
Land measuring 5252 hectares would be acquired for the project and if the dam is completed, around 4996 hectares of land would get submerged. The Karnataka government has been behaving in a rude manner on the Cauvery water issue so as to bully Tamil Nadu.
Even though many parties come to power their stand on the Cauvery water issue does not change. The storage capacity of four dams constructed across Cauvery and its tributaries in that state is 104.59 tmcft. If the Mekedatu dam with a storage capacity of 70 tmcft is built, then the total storage capacity of all the dams would go up to 175 tmcft.
This is double the storage capacity of the Mettur dam. If Karnataka is allowed to go ahead with Mekedatu dam, it will store the surplus water for its future requirements and will not release the water for Tamil Nadu. If Mekedatu dam is completed the delta districts will become deserts.
Therefore, the central government should not accept the petition of the Karnataka seeking environmental clearance. It should be rejected. Apart from being firm on this, the centre should not adopt a step-motherly attitude in releasing Cauvery water for Tamil Nadu.