MEMORANDUM SUBMITTED BY HON’BLE CHIEF MINISTER OF KARNATAKA SRI SIDDARAMAIAH ON BEHALF OF DELEGATION CONSISTING OF FLOOR LEADERS OF KARNATAKA LEGISLATURE AND MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT FROM THE STATE OF KARNATAKA
- This memorandum is submitted on behalf of Karnataka’s delegation consisting of the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Sri Siddaramaiah, Hon’ble Minister for Water Resources, Sri M.B.Patil, Hon’ble Floor Leaders of Karnataka Legislature and Hon’ble Members of Parliament to the Hon’ble Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi to seek the cooperation of the Union Government in fulfilling the long time legitimate expectations of the people of the State on the technical study of the proposed Dam across river Cauvery (within the territory of the State of Karnataka) under the scheme known as Mekedatu Hydro Electric Project for generating the electric power and storing the drinking water needed for Bengaluru Districts.
SHARING OF CAUVERY WATER:
The Inter-State river Cauvery raises in the Western Ghat reaches in the State of Karnataka and flows into the State of Tamil Nadu before entering the Bay of Bengal. Historically, due to political constraints, the people of Cauvery Basin in Karnataka were subjected to great injustice on the sharing of the Cauvery waters. The then princely State of Mysore under the dynastic rule of Wodeyars was the vassal of British power in Madras Presidency. The political subordination of Mysore forced into acceptance of the one sided agreements of 1892 and 1924 giving almost 80 percent of the water to Madras. However, after the independence in 1947 and re-organisation of the States in 1956, the people of Karnataka started ventilating their democratic aspirations leading to the planning of projects in the Cauvery Basin for utilization of their fair share of water, particularly in the drought stricken areas.
- The differences between the riparian States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu led to the formation of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWD Tribunal) on the directions of the Supreme Court, because the State Tamil Nadu insisted on the pound of flesh by relying on the said one sided imperial agreements of 1892 and 1924. The CWD Tribunal submitted its Report in 2007. Unfortunately, the award did not meet the just demands of the people of Karnataka. The CWD Tribunal, instead of apportioning the water on equitable basis was guided by the unfair water regimes of the said agreements of 1892 and 1924. The State of Karnataka has filed appeal in the Hon’ble Supreme Court which is pending. During the pendency of appeal, the Final Order on the Report of 2007 was directed to be published in 2013 without prejudice to the appeals. The Central Government, accordingly notified the Final Order on 19.02.2013 under Sec.6 (1) of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act of 1956.
NO BAR ON THE PLANNING OF NEW PROJECTS IN KARNATAKA:
- The notified Final Order directs the State of Karnataka to ensure 192 tmc at the Inter-State border at Biligundlu in a normal year on monthly basis. Besides this, the Final Order does not impose any bar either expressly or impliedly on the rights, powers or authority of the State of Karnataka. More specifically, neither are there any restrictions on the construction of new works, dams or canals within the territorial limits of the State of Karnataka nor are there any prohibitions on the utilization of surplus water in Karnataka – after meeting 192 tmc at the Inter-State border in a normal year.
CLAUSE-XIII DOES NOT GOVERN HYDRO ELECTRIC PROJECTS LOCATED WITHIN THE TERRITORIAL LIMITS OF THE STATE OF KARNATAKA :
- Regarding the construction of Hydro Electric Projects falling within the territorial limits of the State of Karnataka, there are no restrictions in any of the provisions of the notified Final
Order. Clause XIII of the notified Final Order also does not affect the projects which are entirely within the territorial limits of the State of Karnataka. The said clause reads as:
“The States of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu brought to our notice that a few hydro-power projects in the common reach boundary are being negotiated with the National Hydro Electric Power Corporation (NHPC). In this connection, we have only to observe that whenever any such hydro-power project is constructed and Cauvery Waters are stored in the reservoir, the pattern of downstream releases should be consistent with our order so that the irrigation requirements are not jeopardized”. (Emphasis supplied).
The said Clause-XIII governs the projects to be located in the Cauvery river section of 64 kms which is known as the “common reach boundary”; where left bank is in the territory of the State of Tamil Nadu and right bank is in the territory of the State of Karnataka. Having regard to these, the State has been advised that after ensuring 192 tmc annually (on a monthly basis subject to the seasonal accounting in
December) in a normal year at the Inter-State border Biligundlu, the State is free to utilize the remaining water in its territory by constructing such works or storages as necessary.
TECHNICAL STUDIES OF THE MEKEDATU HYDRO ELECTRIC PROJECT:
- The State of Karnataka conceived the Mekedatu Hydro Electric Project way back in 1970s. The project site where dam would be constructed is located within the territorial limits of the State of Karnataka. As the notified Final Order has not stopped the construction of new projects or works within the territorial limits of the State of Karnataka (after ensuring 192 tmc at the Inter-State border in a normal year), there are no legal impediments in the construction of the Mekedatu Hydro Electric Project.
- When the State of Karnataka started planning the Mekedatu Hydro Electric Project in 2008, the State of Tamil Nadu filed an Application being I.A.No.10 of 2008 before the Supreme
Court questioning the execution of Mekedatu Hydro-Electric Project. The State of Karnataka filed its reply on 29.09.2009 clarifying that:
“6. It is submitted that there is no irrigation contemplated under the Mekedatu project as alleged by Tamil Nadu. The storage at Mekedatu will be made use for producing power. However, there is a proposal to utilize the storage for providing drinking water to the Bangalore City. Both the projects viz., Shivasamudram and Mekedatu planned by Karnataka are flexible and can be adjusted to any pattern of flows, which this Hon’ble Court may ultimately determine in the above pending civil appeals. Therefore, no prejudice will be caused to Tamil Nadu if these projects are implemented by the State of Karnataka pending civil appeals. It is submitted that the State of Karnataka has plan to implement both Shivasamudram and Mekedatu projects on its own. At present the preparation of Detail Project Report in respect of Shivsamudram Project is undertaken.”
The said I.A.No.10 is pending before the Supreme Court and the State of Tamil Nadu has not applied for its disposal. The State of Karnataka in October, 2014 decided to take steps for technical study of Mekedatu Project. A Global Expression of Interest was invited. However, the State of Tamil Nadu vide letter dated 12.11.2014 objected to the said move. The State of Karnataka vide letter dated 18.11.2014 clarified that at present the State has only planned the technical studies. The relevant part of the letter reads as :
“….the Government of Karnataka has invited on 11.11.2014 Global Expression of Interest for technical study of Mekedatu Project across the river Cauvery. However, this Government does not accept your request made in the above letter that the “prior consent of the Government of Tamil Nadu” should be taken. The Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of State of Karnataka vx. State of Andhra Pradesh, etc., (2000) 9 SCC 572 @ 627, 640 and 653) considered Issues No.4 and No.13 in O.S.No.2 of 1997 (Issue No.4: Does the plaintiff [Andhra Pradesh] prove that the upper State are
not entitled to construct project without reference to and consent of other States? Is concurrence of other riparian States necessary?) and answered against the plaintiff State of Andhra Pradesh holding that – the upper States need not take any consent.
The Government of Karnataka clarifies that it has no plans to proceed with the construction of the project without first informing the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the pending I.A.No.10/2008”. (Emphasis supplied)
BENEFITS OF THE MEKEDATU HYDRO ELECTRIC PROJECT :
- The importance of Mekedatu Hydro-Electric Project is unquestionable from the point of its benefit to both the riparian States. The State of Karnataka would be enormously benefited by generating power (the tentatively estimated capacity is expected to be about 400 MW) and more importantly, by timely supply of drinking water to Bengaluru city etc. The State of Tamil Nadu would suffer no prejudice due to the proposed construction of Mekedatu Hydro Electric Project, as its operation would be subject to the obligation to ensure 192 tmc at the Inter-State border in a normal year on a monthly schedule (subject to seasonal accounting in December).
- The need for power generation and supplying drinking water to Bengaluru city is of paramount importance. The power cut in Karnataka is sometime as high as 40 percent. The Bengaluru city has been experiencing acute shortage of drinking water supplies during summer months. The situation may aggravate in the coming years due to population explosion by migration – not only from the drought areas in Karnataka but also more from the States of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The city has no dependable sources, except the Cauvery waters drawn from the river above the inter-State border. Between Krishnarajasagar reservoir and Kabini reservoir and the Inter-State border in the Basin, there is no storage at present. Thus, supplying water to Bengaluru during summer months has posed a serious challenge. The proposed dam at Mekedatu would provide a long term solution to the Bengaluru which is also the international hub for information technology business.
- In these circumstances, the Delegation appeals to the Hon’ble Prime Minister for cooperation of the Union Government in conducting the technical studies of the Mekedatu Hydro- Electric Project and giving appropriate sanctions whenever the State Government approaches the Centre with all details, after the preparation of Final Project Report.
Chief Minister of Karnataka