“When Karnataka already has adequate infrastructure for drawing drinking water to meet the demand of Bengaluru Metropolitan area even now, the justification of the need for a reservoir with a storage capacity of 67.16 TMC ft to utilise 4.75 TMC as drinking water is not at all acceptable,” Stalin said in a letter, requesting Yediyurappa not to pursue the subject.
The Tamil Nadu CM’s letter came in swift response to a letter from Yediyurappa on Saturday in which he sought Stalin’s cooperation to realise the Meke Datu project which, he said, “would immensely benefit both the states.”
Yediyurappa’s letter highlighted the two hydro-electric projects Tamil Nadu has planned in the Cauvery basin. He also mentioned that Tamil Nadu has also taken up several projects across the main river below the Mettur dam, while seeking a bilateral meeting in the presence of officials concerned.
The Tamil Nadu CM said the two hydro-electric projects would not involve consumption of water. The available water would be re-circulated by pumping to meet peak power demand. “Since, there is no additional usage created, both the projects do not affect the availability of water for irrigation or drinking usage in Tamil Nadu.”
Stalin’s letter further said: “The proposed Mekedatu project would impound and divert the first component of uncontrolled flows due to Tamil Nadu…Therefore, the view that the implementation of Mekedatu project would not affect the interests of Tamil Nadu’s farming community cannot be agreed to by us.”
The dam is estimated to cost Rs 6000 crore, and will need about 5000 acres of land. The Karnataka Cabinet, during the Siddaramaiah-led Congress regime, gave in-principle approval.
Karnataka has planned the reservoir for 67 tmc feet (thousand million cubic feet) capacity, much larger than KRS dam’s storage capacity of 45 tmc feet. The Mekedatu project also involves a 400 MW hydel generating station.
Karnataka is required to release 192 tmc feet of water to TN in a normal year, but the State is concerned that a lot of water wastefully flows into the sea in normal monsoon years.
The Cauvery Tribunal has allocated 17 tmc feet of water for Karnataka’s drinking water needs. TN, on the other hand, has got 29 tmc feet for its drinking water needs.
Karnataka’s stand has been that the reservoir will regulate the flow of water and whenever the State has a surplus. It will help to meet the drinking water needs of Bengaluru population and strengthen the water table. It will also provide water to the wildlife in Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border forests.