Context:

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), Southern Zone has appointed a joint committee to look into allegations of unauthorised construction activity taking place in Mekedatu, where the Karnataka government had proposed to construct a dam across the Cauvery River.

Relevance:

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:

  1. About the Cauvery River
  2. Mekedatu
  3. About the proposed Mekedatu Project
  4. Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA)
  5. Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC)

About the Cauvery River

  • The Cauvery River (Kaveri), 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

  • 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 proposed Mekedatu Project

Mekedatu politics stirs fresh trouble between states
  • Ontigondlu is the proposed reservoir site, situated at Ramanagara district in Karnataka about 100 km away from Bengaluru. It is the midst of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • The Rs. 9,000 crore project aims to store and supply water for drinking purposes for the Bengaluru city. Around 400 megawatts (MW) of power is also proposed to be generated through the project.
  • The project was first approved by the Karnataka state government in 2017.
  • It received approval from the erstwhile Ministry of Water Resources for the detailed project report and is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
  • Tamil Nadu had approached the Supreme Court (SC) against the project even if Karnataka has held that it would not affect the flow of water to Tamil Nadu. In 2020, during the Cauvery Water Management Authority’s meeting, Tamil Nadu reiterated its opposition to the project.

Click Here to read more about the NGT, its powers and functions

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


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