Cauvery River Current Affairs - 2019

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Factbox: Mekedatu Project

The tussle between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on the issue of River Cauvery has got a new addition. The proposal of Karnataka to build dam at Mekedatu is opposed fiercely by Tamil Nadu.

About the Project

  • The Government of Karnataka is planning to build a dam across river Cauvery near Mekedatu in Ramanagara district.
  • The proposed capacity of dam is 48 TMC (thousand million cubic feet).
  • The objective of the dam is to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the groundwater table in the region.

Why Tamil Nadu is opposing the project?

  • Tamil Nadu’s main argument is that the project violates the final award of the Cauvery River Water Tribunal.
  • Tamil Nadu argues that the construction of the reservoir would result in impounding of the flows in the intermediate catchment below the Krishnaraja Sagar and Kabini reservoirs, and Billigundulu in the common border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • Tamil Nadu also suspects that with the proposed project Karnataka intends to extend the area under irrigation.

Karnataka’s Arguments

  • Karnataka argues that Mekedatu project will not come in the way of releasing the stipulated quantum of water to Tamil Nadu, nor will it be used for irrigation purposes.
  • Karnataka is willing to hold talks with Tamil Nadu on this issue.
  • Karnataka has again made it clear that the reservoir is only for storing water meant to generate electricity and provide drinking water to Bengaluru as well as its neighbouring areas.

The feasibility study of the dam is cleared by the Central Water Commission (CWC). The CWC has conditioned that water supply to Tamil Nadu from Cauvery must not be hampered. Now Karnataka can go ahead and prepare Detailed Project Report. The Government of Tamil Nadu had moved to Supreme Court seeking to prohibit Karnataka from proceeding with its Detailed Project Report. Supreme Court has refused to give the stay as of now.

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Central Government forms Cauvery Water Management Authority

Following directions from Supreme Court, the Central Government has constituted the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA) to address the dispute over sharing of river water among Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry.

In February, 2018 judgement, the Supreme Court had directed centre to form the CMA within six weeks. In the same verdict, the court had also increased Karnataka’s share in Cauvery Water marginally.

Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA)

The newly constituted Cauvery Water Management Authority (CMA) has been created as per the Cauvery Management Scheme earlier framed by Centre and approved by Supreme Court.

Composition and Powers of CMA

·       The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members.  Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side.

·       Rest four will be part time members from states. The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.

·       CMA will also advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency. It will do so by promoting use of micro-irrigation, change in cropping patterns, improved farm practices and development of command areas.

·       The CMA will also prepare an annual report covering its activities during the preceding year.

Role of Central Government

The central government will provide help in implementation of the modified award in case of any of the state /UT parties (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Puducherry) do not cooperate in implementing the decision or direction of the tribunal. Initially, centre will contribute Rs. 2 crore for the functioning of the authority.

Cauvery Water Regulation Committee

Along with CMA, the government has also established Cauvery Water Regulation Committee that shall give effect to the decision of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal as modified by the Supreme Court order. This committee will meet every 10 days during months of June and October when the south-west and north-east monsoon set in and again after the monsoon has set in.

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