Mekedatu, meaning goat’s leap, is a deep gorge situated at the confluence of the rivers Cauvery and its tributary Arkavathi.
On July 6, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa said in Bengaluru that his government would go ahead with the long-pending Mekedatu dam project in the Cauvery Basin to cater to the drinking water needs of the Bengaluru Metropolitan City and surrounding areas.
Mekedatu Dam Project:
Tamil Nadu also argues that the project is against the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) in which the SC held that no state can claim exclusive ownership or assert rights to deprive other states of the waters of inter-state rivers and that no constructions should be made at Mekedatu without the approval of lower riparian states as per the Supreme Court order.
Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal
and Mekedatu Dam Project:
- The Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, in its final order made allocations to all the riparian States — Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, apart from the Union Territory of Puducherry.
- It defined a “normal year” as one in which the total yield of the Cauvery basin is 740 TMC. In a normal year, Karnataka has to release to Tamil Nadu at Biligundulu 192 TMC (as against 205 TMC in the interim award) in monthly deliveries. This comprises 182 TMC from the allocated share of TN, including 10 TMC for environmental purposes.
- In a so-called distress year, the allocated shares are to be proportionately reduced among Kerala, Karnataka, TN and Puducherry.The Tribunal also recommended setting up the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) to implement the Tribunal’s decisions
- As instructed by the Supreme Court, the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) was created by the Centre on 1 June 2018. The Cauvery Water Regulation Committee was created three weeks later.
- The river Cauvery is the largest in southern India, and begins near Mercara in the Coorg region at an elevation of 1,341 m (4400 ft) above sea level towards the Western Ghats, taking an easterly course through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, before joining the Bay of Bengal.
- The Cauvery’s upper hilly catchment lies in Karnataka and Kerala. It is influenced by the usually dependable south-west monsoon during June to September. Its lower part lies in the plains of Tamil Nadu, served by the not-so-dependable north-east Monsoon during October to December.
- In technical water law language, Karnataka is the upper riparian state where the river originates; Tamil Nadu is a lower riparian state. Puducherry wants its share of the Cauvery because it is where the river flows into the Bay of Bengal. And Kerala actually contributes more water to the river than it can utilize, because of its geography.
- Some of its tributaries are Arkavathi, Hemavathi, Lakshmana Theertha, Shimsa, Kabini and Harangi.
Mekedatu Dam Project Continued below
Inter-State Water Disputes:
- Parliament may by law provide for the adjudication of any dispute or complaint with respect to the use, distribution or control of the waters of, or in, any inter-State river or river valley.
- Parliament may, by law provide that neither the Supreme Court nor any other court shall exercise jurisdiction in respect of any such dispute or complaint as mentioned above.
Mekedatu Dam Project Continued
- Entry 17 of State List deals with water i.e. water supply, irrigation, canal, drainage, embankments, water storage and water power.
- Entry 56 of Union List empowers the Union Government for the regulation and development of inter-state rivers and river valleys to the extent declared by Parliament to be expedient in the public interest..
- Article 262, contains provisions related to disputes relating to waters
Mechanism for Inter-State River Water Disputes Resolution
- The resolution of water dispute is governed by the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.
- According to its provisions, if a State Government makes a request regarding any water dispute and the Central Government is of opinion that the water dispute cannot be settled by negotiations, then a Water Disputes Tribunal is constituted for the adjudication of the water dispute.
- The act was amended in 2002, to include the major recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission.
- The amendments mandated a one year time frame to setup the water disputes tribunal and also a 3 year time frame to give a decision.