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Mekedatu Project

  Apr 15, 2023

Mekedatu Project

Q Why is it in News ?

  • Announcement of dam and reservoir: The Deputy CM of Karnataka announced plans for the construction of a dam and reservoir called Mekedatu near the state’s border with Tamil Nadu.
  • Objections raised by Tamil Nadu: Tamil Nadu expressed strong objections to the project, arguing that it goes against the rulings of both the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and the Supreme Court.
  • Warning of protests: Political parties in Tamil Nadu have warned of potential protests and opposition if the construction of the Mekedatu dam proceeds.


Q What is Mekedatu Project?

  • Location and purpose: The Mekedatu dam project is planned to be constructed in Ramanagaram district, approximately 100 km south of Bengaluru. Its primary purpose is to address the drinking water needs of Bengaluru and replenish the regional groundwater table.
  • Proposed capacity and estimated cost of the dam: The dam is proposed to have a capacity of 48 TMC (thousand million cubic) feet and is estimated to cost Rs 6,000 crore.
  • Background and previous developments of the project: The idea of the Mekedatu dam has been under consideration for several years. In 2014, the Karnataka government invited expressions of interest for the project and allocated funds for a detailed project report in the following year.


Q Why is there Opposition to the Project ?

  • Widespread protests and state-wide bandh in TN: When the project was initially proposed, Tamil Nadu witnessed widespread protests against it. These protests culminated in a statewide bandh, supported by various stakeholders.
  • Resolutions passed by TN Assembly against the project: The Tamil Nadu Assembly, representing the voice of the people, passed unanimous resolutions expressing strong opposition to the Mekedatu project in December 2018 and January 2022.
  • Political actions and legal involvement in the dispute: Various political leaders and parties in Tamil Nadu have taken actions, including raising the issue with the central government and approaching the Supreme Court to challenge the project’s legality.


Q What are the arguments against the Project ?

  • Concerns over modification of river flow: Critics of the Mekedatu project argue that constructing reservoirs on the Cauvery River would modify its natural flow, potentially leading to adverse effects downstream.
  • Violation of the final award of the water disputes tribunal: Tamil Nadu contends that the proposed dam violates the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, which determined the water-sharing arrangements between the two states.
  • Impact on water flow in catchment areas: Tamil Nadu raises concerns that the project’s implementation would impound the flow in catchment areas, affecting the availability of water downstream and potentially leading to water scarcity in the state.


Q What are the Justifications and proposals ?

  • Ensuring adequate flow to TN: Karnataka argues that the construction of the Mekedatu dam will not hinder the stipulated quantum of water release to Tamil Nadu nor be utilized for irrigation purposes.
  • Allocation of funds and willingness to negotiate: The Karnataka government has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the project, indicating its commitment. It also expresses willingness to engage in discussions and negotiations with Tamil Nadu to address concerns and find a resolution.
  • Clearance of feasibility study: The Central Water Commission cleared a feasibility study for the Mekedatu project in 2018, providing additional support for Karnataka’s justifications and indicating the project’s viability.


Q What is Historical context of the dispute ?

  • Past opposition and protests against the dam: The Mekedatu dam has been a subject of contention and opposition for several years. Tamil Nadu has witnessed widespread protests, reflecting public sentiment against the project.
  • Political actions and involvement of state delegations: Political leaders from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been actively involved in addressing the issue. Delegations from both states have approached the central government seeking support or intervention.
  • Legal challenges and the role of the Supreme Court: Tamil Nadu’s approach to the Supreme Court against the Mekedatu project highlights the legal dimension of the dispute. The involvement of the court plays a crucial role in considering the arguments and reaching a resolution.


Q What are the Environmental and Economic considerations ?

  • Potential benefits of the dam for water supply: Proponents of the Mekedatu project argue that it will address the pressing drinking water needs of Bengaluru, ensuring a stable water supply for the growing city.
  • Concerns about environmental impact and ecosystem disruption: Critics raise concerns about the potential environmental impact of constructing the dam and reservoir. They highlight potential disruptions to local ecosystems and the natural flow of the river.
  • Evaluating the economic viability of the project: Given the significant estimated cost of the Mekedatu project, there is a need to evaluate its cost-effectiveness and long-term economic viability, considering factors such as funding sources, returns on investment, and sustainable utilization of resources.


Q What can be the Way forward ?

  • Importance of negotiation and finding common ground: The conflict surrounding the Mekedatu project emphasizes the importance of dialogue, negotiations, and finding mutually acceptable solutions that address the concerns of both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • Role of the Supreme Court and other mediators in resolving conflicts: The involvement of the Supreme Court and other mediators can play a crucial role in facilitating discussions, mediating conflicts, and reaching a resolution that adheres to legal frameworks and considers the interests of both states.
  • Promoting inter-state cooperation for sustainable water management: The dispute underscores the need for robust inter-state cooperation and collaboration on water management issues. It is crucial to ensure sustainable and equitable utilization of shared water resources, respect legal frameworks, and address the concerns of all stakeholders involved.