Bengaluru: In 2013, TB Jayachandra, the then Karnataka law and parliamentary affairs minister, had announced the construction of a multi-purpose balancing reservoir project in the deep gorge - Mekedatu, which is situated a 100kms away from Bengaluru in Ramanagara district, Karnataka. The project aims to reduce the problems of drinking water in Bengaluru and Ramanagara. At the time, the government said that the reservoir could hold the capacity of 66 tmcft, after releasing water to Tamil Nadu. The reservoir is also expected to create hydroelectricity for the state.   

In recent events, the Central Water Commission on Monday gave a green signal to the project’s pre-feasibility report that was submitted by the state government. Prior to this, the Karnataka government was asked to submit a detailed project report and was told that it should also provide water to Tamil Nadu, from Cauvery river as authorised by the Supreme Court.   

In a media meet on Tuesday, DK Shivakumar, Karnataka water resource minister, said that he was happy with the central government’s decision. However, Tamil Nadu is still opposing the project, which Shivakumar said was uncalled for. He said, “Chief minister Kumaraswamy and I are ready to hold talks with our Tamil Nadu counterparts. They only have to agree.”

Early in October, Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy along with Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for water resources, held a meeting, after which the approval was announced on Monday. Edappadi K Palaniswami, the Tamil Nadu chief minister had then requested the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deny permission for the project.

In 2013, when the project was announced, the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu J Jayalalithaa had also made a similar plea to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She told that the central government that the project is an unfeasible one for lower riparian states like Tamil Nadu as there is no set union to monitor the Cauvery Water Disput Tribunal. The Tamil Nadu government's contradiction to the project is that the reservoir would hinder the water supply to farmers in the state and would also be against the Tribunal’s prescribed total quantity of water for consumption.            

Siddaramaiah, the former Karnataka chief minister, during his term had approved the project’s start in February 2017. By October, the same year they were able to submit the pre-feasibility report to the Central Water Commission. However, due to its faulty nature it was not approved.    

Chief minister Palaniswami noted that the Karnataka government's approach was a violation to the scheme issued by the Supreme Court early this year on February 16. According to Palaniswami, Karnataka government did not have any agreement with the Tamil Nadu government before approaching the CWC. The Supreme Court had ordered a scheme to be made that would supervise any future water-related conflicts between the states.