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What is Mekedatu Project?

Recently in news, that the Karnataka government headed by Chief Minister B.S Yediyurappa, to bring pressure on the Centre to approve the construction of the Mekedatu balancing reservoir that has been proposed to store water for drinking purposes.

What is the meaning of Mekedatu?

Mekedatu means goat’s leap. It is a deep gorge situated at the confluence of the rivers Cauvery and its tributary Arkavathi. Ontigondlu is situated at Ramanagara district in Karnataka is the proposed reservoir site which is about 100 km away from Bengaluru. It is the midst of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.

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About Mekedatu project and its present status

The project is of Rs 9000 crore and was approved in 2017 by the Karnataka State government. The objective of the project is to store and supply water for drinking purposes for Bengaluru City. Also, around 400 megawatts (MW) of power is proposed to be generated through the project.

It also received approval from the Ministry of Water Resources for the detailed project report and is awaiting for the approval from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). Therefore, Tamil Nadu has approached the Supreme Court against the project.

It is said the approval from MoEFCC is crucial as 63% of the forest area of the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary will be submerged. 5,051 hectares of forests would be submerged, including 3,181 hectares in the sanctuary and 1,870 hectares in the reserve forest.

Partially to meet the drinking need of Bengaluru, 4.75 thousand million cubic feet of water could be drawn from the reservoir. During the Cauvery Water Management Authority meeting in June 2020, Tamil Nadu reiterated its opposition to the project.

About Mekedatu dispute and the reasons for opposition by Tamil Nadu

As discussed Mekedatu is situated along Cauvery in Kanakapura Taluk of Ramanagara District of Karnataka. The Karnataka wants to generate a reservoir across Cauvery at Mekedatu, to meet the Bengaluru’s water problem.

On this Tamil Nadu said that Karnataka had not sought prior permission for the project. Further, the argument was that the project would affect the flow of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. Further argued that the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Cauvery Tribunal are violated due to the construction of the reservoir.

The project is against the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) and the SC held that no state can claim exclusive ownership or assert rights to deprive other states of the waters of inter-state rivers. The CWDT and the SC have found that the existing storage facilities available in the Cauvery basin were adequate for storing and distributing water so Karnataka’s proposal is ex-facie and should be rejected outright. And the reservoir is not just for drinking water alone, but to increase the extent of irrigation which is in clear violation of the Cauvery Water Disputes Award.

Facts about Cauvery River

– Cauvery River rises on Brahmagiri Hill of the Western Ghats in south-western Karnataka state.

– Three states and a Union Territory has been covered by the river basin including Tamil Nadu (about 43,868 square kilometres), Karnataka (about 34,273 square kilometres), Kerala (about 2,866 square kilometres) and Puducherry.

– The tributaries are Hemavati, Lakshmantirtha, Kabani (Kabbani), Amaravati, Noyil, and Bhavani rivers.

Note: This topic covers GS Paper II of UPSC and will be helpful for further preparation.

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