The Centre's go ahead for the construction of a reservoir-cum-drinking water project at Mekedatu across the Cauvery, about 110 km from Bengaluru, has raised the prospect of another showdown between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over river water sharing.
The Karnataka government has been pitching for the project which it says will address the growing drinking water needs of the state capital and parts of Mysuru region, but Tamil Nadu has said the reservoir will affect the flow of Cauvery water to the state, dealing a major blow to lakhs of its farmers.
Based on its feasibility report, Central Water Commission has given its go-ahead to Karnataka for preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Rs. 5,912 crore project with a capacity of about 66 tmc ft in Ramanagaram district of the state.
"The project will fulfil the drinking water needs of Bengaluru and Ramanagara. We shall be preparing a detailed plan in accordance with the terms of reference of the order," Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara tweeted.
The project, which was first proposed in 2003, did not make much progress for next decade and more because of the opposition from the Tamil Nadu government. When the Karnataka revived the plan in 2015, Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a resolution against the project.
Karnataka has long said it will use only the excess water after supplying 192 tmcft to Tamil Nadu as per the Cauvery Water Tribunal order, but the neighbour has remained unconvinced about the assurance.
With the Centre's green signal Karnataka is determined to move ahead with the project
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy asserted that the project "has to come into effect," despite Tamil Nadu's opposition. "No need to panic, Mekedatu project has to come into effect," Mr Kumaraswamy said in response to his Tamil Nadu counterpart K Palaniswami raising strong objection to the proposed project in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"Without considering the genuine and justifiable objections, the Central Water Commission has given has given permission to Karnataka to prepare the DPR for the Mekedatu project," Mr Palaniswami said.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister said the proposed project has already caused apprehension among people as "it will affect the livelihood of lakhs of farmers who depend on the Cauvery water."