Mekedatu: Karnataka's request for talks an "attempt to impede" court proceedings, says TN Law Minister
The Tamil Nadu government on Monday said Karnataka's request for talks on the Mekedatu issue "is an attempt to impede" proceedings in the Supreme Court and asked it not to go ahead with the Detailed Project Report (DPR) on the project and also any other construction in the Cauvery river basin without its nod.
Law Minister C Ve Shanmugham was responding to Karnataka Water Resources Minister DK Shivakumar, who had last week written to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami seeking an appointment with him to discuss the proposed project and reach an amicable solution.
Shivakumar had said the project would help in regulating judicious release of water so that excess water is not allowed to flow from the Mettur dam in Salem in Tamil Nadu into the sea needlessly as has had happened this year.
He had wanted to discuss with Palaniswami, the "misconceptions" over his state's proposal for a dam.
In his letter to Shivakumar on Monday, Shanmugham reiterated Tamil Nadu's stand that any construction or even preparation of a Detailed Project Report for the construction of a new reservoir, project "is a clear violation" of the February 16, 2018 apex court judgement on the Cauvery dispute involving two states.
"The request of the Government of Karnataka to discuss the Mekedatu Project with the Government of Tamil Nadu is an attempt to impede proceedings pending on the application filed on November 30, 2018 by Tamil Nadu and also contempt proceedings initiated against you and others in the Supreme Court on December 5, 2018 and the matter has now become sub-judice," he told Shivakumar.
The apex Court on December 5 admitted Tamil Nadu's plea against the nod granted to Karnataka for preparing a DPR for the proposed balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project at Mekedatu across the Cauvery river.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had allowed the state's plea which had said the permission was in utter disregard of the apex court's February 16 verdict on the Cauvery dispute observing that no state can claim "exclusive ownership" of inter-state river water.
In his letter Monday, Shanmugham said the Karnataka government "in violation" of the February 16 verdict, had obtained permission from the Central Water Commission to go ahead for preparation of a DPR for the Mekedatu project, without informing and getting the concurrence of Tamil Nadu and other co-basin states.
It had not informed the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA), he added.
Shanmugham urged Shivakumar not to proceed in any manner with the preparation of a DPR for the Mekedatu project and not to take up any construction activities at any place in the Cauvery Basin of Karnataka without the prior consent of the Tamil Nadu government.
Any construction or even preparation of a DPR is a "clear violation" of the February 16 apex court verdict, he said.
"Hence, I request you to desist from preparation of a Detailed Project Report for Mekedatu project," he said and urged the upper riparian state to comply with the February 16 judgement of the apex court in "letter and spirit."
In its February 16 verdict, the Supreme Court had hiked Karnataka's share of water from Cauvery by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu's quantum while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin.
Maintaining that the issue of drinking water has to be placed on a "higher pedestal", the top court enhanced Karnataka's share from 270 tmcft to 284.75 tmcft on account of water for drinking and domestic requirements, while lowering Tamil Nadu's share of water from 419 tmcft to 404.25 tmcft.
Karnataka had recently proposed a reservoir on Cauvery at Mekedatu, which has been steadfastly opposed by the Tamil Nadu government, besides all opposition parties in the state, expressing fear that it would affect farmers dependent on the river for irrigation.