Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai on Friday met union water resources minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, seeking an approval for a detailed project report (DPR) for the contentious Mekedatu reservoir-cum-balancing project.
“This morning, I met jal shakti minister (Shekhawat) and spoke to him about irrigation and Mekedatu. We have re-appealed that the DPR for Mekedatu be given approval,” Bommai said in New Delhi after the meeting. The chief minister said he also sought for release of grants for the Upper Bhadra Project and the issue of raising the height of the Almatti dam.
The meeting comes days after Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to restrain the Cauvery Water Management Authority from discussing Karnataka’s Mekedatu project proposal in its meeting.
Bommai said: “I’m here to put pressure that the matter which is before the Cauvery Water Management Authority should be decided upon at the earliest.”
In response to a question, he said Tamil Nadu has filed a miscellaneous application before the Supreme Court and once the notice is served to the state, the government will respond to it. “It (Mekedatu) is already in the (CWMA meeting) agenda, I will put pressure that it should be taken up and a final decision be taken regarding the project,” he added.
Bommai also met union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and thanked her for releasing the ₹8,633 cr GST share of the state. The chief minister also demanded the finance minister to reconcile a few accounts issues and release the due amount to the state.
Mekedatu, which literally means Goat’s crossing, is situated around 100 km from Bengaluru in Ramanagara district and successive governments in Karnataka have been promising to get the reservoir-cum-drinking water project completed as it also holds significant political capital.
The Mekedatu issue has evoked emotions on both sides of the border as it is an extension of the century-old Cauvery river water dispute that has defined generations in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, two of India’s most industrious and progressive states.
The Cauvery river basin originates in Karnataka and flows through Tamil Nadu and Puducherry before it enters the Bay of Bengal. Of the total catchment area of 81,155 sq km, 34,273 km is in Karnataka, 44,016 sq km in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and about 2,866 sq km in Kerala.
Karnataka has maintained that the Mekedatu balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project is to generate 400 MW of power and additionally utilise 4.75 tmcft of water for drinking and domestic needs in the state and particularly Bengaluru.
Bommai is hopeful to get requisite clearances from the BJP-led union government and initiate the project which would help its bid to return to power in next year’s elections. He had called his Tamil Nadu counterpart’s letter a “political stunt”.
The Siddaramaiah-led Congress government, soon after it came to power in 2013, announced the construction of the project which would cost ₹5,912 crore to help use the excess water to quench the thirst of surrounding districts, including Bengaluru.
Bommai also attended the GST Group of Ministers meeting in Delhi on Friday but refused to divulge any details of the same as the GST council is scheduled to meet later this month.
Replying to a question on violence in various parts of the country against the Agnipath scheme, Bommai said effective measures have been taken to maintain law and order in the state. “I had a meeting with the DGP, ADGP, Bengaluru police commissioner and the home secretary yesterday (Thursday) and instructed them to take strong precautionary measures to avoid any untoward incidents,” Bommai said.
The chief minister said there was no schedule to meet any of the BJP leaders in Delhi as it was a short visit. “I am not scheduled to meet anyone in Delhi. BJP National President JP Nadda is coming to Bengaluru tomorrow,” Bommai said earlier in the day.