After Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister expressed the resolve to build a dam and reservoir on the Cauvery at Mekedatu close to the state’s border with Tamil Nadu, DMK general secretary issued a sharp response — pointing out that the Mekedatu project was not part of the awards of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) or the ruling of the Supreme Court.
GS-II: Polity and Governance (Intra-State Relations, Functions & responsibilities of the Union and the States, Issues and challenges of federal structure)
Dimensions of the Article:
- About the Cauvery River
- About the Mekedatu Project:
- Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA)
- Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC)
About the Cauvery River
- The Cauvery River (Kaveri), designated as the ‘Dakshina Ganga’ or ‘the Ganga of the South’, flows in a southeasterly direction through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and descends the Eastern Ghats in a series of great falls.
- Before emptying into the Bay of Bengal south of Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu the river breaks into a large number of distributaries forming a wide delta called the “Garden of Southern India”
- The Cauvery basin extends over states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Union Territory of Puducherry draining an area of 81 thousand Sq.km.
- It is bounded by the Western Ghats on the west, by the Eastern Ghats on the east and the south, and by the ridges separating it from the Krishna basin and Pennar basin on the north.
- The Nilgiris, an offshore of Western ghats, extend Eastwards to the Eastern ghats and divide the basin into two natural and political regions i.e., Karnataka plateau in the North and the Tamil Nadu plateau in the South.
- Physiographically, the basin can be divided into three parts – the Westen Ghats, the Plateau of Mysore, and the Delta.
- The delta area is the most fertile tract in the basin. The principal soil types found in the basin are black soils, red soils, laterites, alluvial soils, forest soils, and mixed soils. Red soils occupy large areas in the basin. Alluvial soils are found in the delta areas.
- It is almost a perennial river with comparatively fewer fluctuations in flow and is very useful for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation because its upper catchment area receives rainfall during summer by the south-west monsoon and the lower catchment area during the winter season by the retreating north-east monsoon.
- Harangi, Hemavati, Shimsha, and Arkavati are the tributaries on the left bank (north) and Lakshmantirtha, Kabbani, Suvarnavati, Bhavani, Noyil, and Amaravati are the tributaries on the right bank (south).
- Mekedatu is a location along Kaveri in the border of Chamarajanagar and Ramanagara Districts. Sangama is the place where Arkavati merges with Kaveri.
- At Mekedaatu, the Kaveri runs through a deep, narrow ravine of hard granite rock.
- The water flows very fast through the gorge, gouging pits in the rocky riverbed.
About the Mekedatu Project:
- The Mekedatu dam project is located in Ramanagaram district, approximately 100 km south of Bengaluru, near the entry point of the Cauvery River into Tamil Nadu. The project has been a subject of controversy for several years.
- The proposed dam has a capacity of 48 TMC (thousand million cubic) feet and an estimated cost of Rs 6,000 crore. Its primary objectives are to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the regional groundwater table.
- In November 2014, the Karnataka government, under Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, invited expressions of interest for the project and allocated Rs 25 crore in the 2015 Budget for a detailed project report.
- The Mekedatu dam is planned to be larger than the Krishnaraja Sagar project on the Cauvery River. The Central Water Commission (CWC) approved a feasibility study for the project in 2018.
History of Opposition to the Project:
- Tamil Nadu witnessed widespread protests against the dam in 2015, including a statewide bandh supported by various stakeholders. The state Assembly passed unanimous resolutions against the project in December 2018 and January 2022.
- Prior to the 2016 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Captain Vijayakanth of DMDK led a delegation of Opposition leaders to meet the Prime Minister to raise concerns about the project. Siddaramaiah, the then Chief Minister of Karnataka, also led an all-party delegation from Karnataka seeking the Centre’s cooperation for the project.
- In August 2021, Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court against the project, arguing that Karnataka’s plan to construct two reservoirs on the Cauvery River would alter its flow and violate the final award of the Cauvery River Water Tribunal (CRWT). Tamil Nadu contended that the project would impede the flow of water downstream, affecting areas such as Billigundulu along the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.
Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA)
- CWMA has been created as per the Cauvery Management Scheme framed by Centre and approved by Supreme Court.
- The Cauvery Management Scheme deals with release of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
- It will be implemented by Cauvery Management Authority (CMA).
- CMA will be sole body to implement CWDT award as modified by Supreme Court.
- The Central Government will have no say in implementing of the scheme except for issuing administrative advisories to it.
- The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members.
- Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side. Rest four will be part time members from states.
- The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.
- CMA will also advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency.
- It will do so by promoting use of micro-irrigation, change in cropping patterns, improved farm practices and development of command areas.
- The CMA will also prepare an annual report covering its activities during the preceding year.
Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC)
- The Central government constituted the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) as per the provisions in the Kaveri Management Scheme laid down by the Supreme Court.
- While the CWMA is an umbrella body, the CWRC will monitor water management on a day-to-day basis, including the water level and inflow and outflow of reservoirs in all the basin states.
-Source: The Hindu, Indian Express