Following the refusal of an expert appraisal committee of the Union environment ministry to set Terms of Reference (ToR) for Karnataka’s Mekedatu dam project across the Cauvery, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Tuesday (August 7) submitted a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking for the project’s clearance.
Although the committee asked the Karnataka government to settle the matter through an amicable solution with Tamil Nadu, Yediyurappa in the representation stated that there was no law, rule or order that necessitates the concurrence of the Tamil Nadu government.
The Karnataka government had sought environmental clearance for construction of the dam at an estimated cost of ₹9,000 crore. The expert committee meeting on July 19 had refused to set the terms of reference.
The committee, citing a couple of representations from Tamil Nadu, suggested that an amicable solution be arrived in between the two states and put up the proposal for reconsideration of the ToR.
In response, Karnataka CM Yediyurappa on Tuesday submitted the representation to the Prime Minister stating that Karnataka was not legally required to take the consent of co-riparian state, Tamil Nadu.
In the letter to Modi, Yediyurappa said Karnataka was keen to take up the Mekedatu balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project (with a storage capacity of about 67 TMC), which will be helpful to regulate the monthly flows to Tamil Nadu as stipulated in the Cauvery tribunal’s final orders.
“Mekedatu is located within the territorial limits of Karnataka and therefore, it is not governed by Clause XIII which governs hydro projects on common reach of the Cauvery river,” he said in the letter.
Further citing the Supreme Court’s final order on the Cauvery issue, Yediyurappa said the order does not restrict or prohibit Karnataka from constructing dams or other structures for utilising its share of water.
Citing another Supreme Court judgement in a case between Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the chief minister said there is no law, rule or order which mandates the Karnataka government to get the concurrence of the Tamil Nadu government.
Yediyurappa also cited the Supreme Court’s Cauvery judgement that held that ‘prescriptive’ right was not the law. “On the face of this judgement, the prescriptive rights mentioned in the 1892 agreement cannot be enforced. If these rights are not enforceable, the question of implementing the 1892 agreement and consent of Tamil Nadu do not arise,” he said.
“Neither the Central government nor Karnataka is needed to take the consent of Tamil Nadu in this regard,” he concluded, requesting the Prime Minister to direct the concerned authorities to accord required clearances to the detailed project report of the Mekedatu project.
Earlier, the expert appraisal committee meeting held on July 19, apart from suggesting an amicable solution, sought additional details including details of private land acquired as per Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Act, 2013.