Proposed Mekedatu reservoir to severely impact water flow: TN tells SC; Karnataka refutes claim

Source: PTI | Published on 21st July 2022, 12:02 PM | State News |

NEW DELHI: The Tamil Nadu government Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the proposed reservoir at Mekedatu across the Inter-State Cauvery river would "severely impact" the water flow coming to the state, a claim refuted by the Karnataka government.

The Karnataka government told a bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar that the reservoir project is to come up within the state and there is no question of impacting in any manner the water flow which has been directed by the apex court to be released.

The bench, also comprising Justices A S Oka and J B Pardiwala, was hearing Tamil Nadu's application which has sought to restrain the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) from deliberating or passing any order or direction concerning the detailed project report for the proposed Mekedatu balancing reservoir-cum-drinking water project pending disposal of the applications concerning the project filed by the state.

During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said the CWMA has no jurisdiction to examine the project.

"The question is whether this authority has the jurisdiction," the bench observed, adding, "This is a jurisdictional issue".

Rohatgi said the deliberation on this had to take place in June and now it is slated for July 22. "I am saying they have no jurisdiction and this is a matter which is very sensitive to our state," he said.

"They (Karnataka) are proposing to impound some water at a place called Mekadatu, which according to us will severely impact the amount of delivery of water to us at Billigundlu," Rohatgi said.

Senior advocate Shyam Divan, who was appearing for Karnataka, told the bench that the application filed by Tamil Nadu is completely misconceived.

"There is no question of impacting in any manner the flow which has been directed by this court to be released," he said.

During the hearing, the bench orally observed that the authority may deliberate on this issue but in that deliberation, if any decision is taken then it will be subject to the outcome of this application.

"It is our case, this deliberation is completely without jurisdiction," Rohatgi said, adding, "The whole thing is actually an attempt to bypass the judgement of this court."

Divan said they will ask the authority to postpone the matter to Friday since the apex court is hearing the application.

"Both of us will ask for this," Rohatgi said.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on July 26 and issued notice on the application filed by Tamil Nadu.

The Tamil Nadu government had earlier moved the apex court seeking to restrain Karnataka from proceeding with any activity regarding the proposed construction of a reservoir at Mekedatu.

The top court in 2018 directed the Karnataka government to release 177.25 tmcft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from its inter-state Billigundlu dam.

During the hearing on Wednesday, Rohatgi said Tamil Nadu is a lower riparian state and if the water flow is obstructed, it will affect the delivery of water to the state.

The bench observed that if Tamil Nadu is seeking direction against the CWMA, then it would hear them also.

In its application, the state of Tamil Nadu has said, "It is submitted that the proposed Mekedatu reservoir project of Karnataka is detrimental to the interest of the farmers of Tamil Nadu, who depend on the waters of Cauvery for their livelihood."

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