Accusing the BJP government of delaying the implementation of Mekedatu water project of Ramanagar district, the Congress has decided to launch a 10-day Padayatra from January 9 under the tile ‘Neerigagi Nade (Walk for water).
Meanwhile, Congress Legislative Party chief and Leader of the Opposition in assembly, Siddaramaiah has made it clear that it is not their party’s programme. But a campaign organized in the interest of the people of the State. “ People of different walks of life and organizations can participate in it as the programme is not a political one”, he said.
He alleged that despite the project having no legal hurdles, the BJP government is delaying its implementation. The BJP has adopted delay tactics, he said.
Detailing about the campaign, he said that of the ten days, the first five days will be spent in rural areas and remaining in urban areas. The Yatra will commence from Mekedatu and will cover Kanakapura, Ramnagar, Kengeri, Nayamdalli to reach Bengaluru city.
The entire stretch of 160 kilometers will be covered in ten days, Siddaramaiah said.
He claimed that the project was first planned by the Congress government in1968 itself. But it could not be implemented then due to the matter being subjudice. The project report was prepared by the Congress when it came to power in 2013.
He said that the objective of the Mekedatu project is to hold the excess water which normally gets wasted and joins the ocean during monsoon season. The stored water could be used during summers for drinking, irrigation and generating power.
“ Over 30% of the population of Bengaluru city is not getting Cauvery River water. Mekedatu project will provide water facility to Bengaluru city and around 2.5 crore people of ten other districts. Considering the dire need, the government should implement the project without any delay”, he said.
Claiming that neither Green Tribunal nor Supreme Court is objecting to the project and the project report is ready, the government should go ahead with the project as Tamil Nadu has no legal right to object for the project.
When the condition is so favorable to the State government, yet the government is still delaying the project, which only means that the government has no political will for it.
“Before the election, the BJP was saying that if the BJP government comes to power in the State and at the Centre, then it will act like a double-engine government. All the pending projects can be expedited and adequate funds could be allocated. But today when BJP is in power in both places, the projects are not moving anywhere. If a double-engine government can be really good for the people, then why is the Mekedatu project still pending”, he wondered.
What is the Mekedatu project?
The Government of Karnataka had announced plans to construct a 67 tmcft capacity dam across Cauvery River at Mekedatu area of Kanakapura taluk in Ramanagar district located between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu border.
The objective of the project was to provide drinking water to Bengaluru city and nearby districts and also to generate 400MW of power with the dam.
The government had proposed to spend around Rs. 6000 crore for the dam which was submerging around 5000 acre land.
The detailed project report was also submitted to the Central Water Commission.
The Karnataka government meanwhile has been saying that the project would be commenced after receiving permission from the Ministry of Environment, Government of India.
The Karnataka government has shown interest in the project since 1960 itself. At the same time, Tamil Nadu government also declared to construct Hogenakal project.
But because of the Cauvery water sharing dispute between both states, the projects remained pending.
Between 1996-97, duo States held five rounds of talks, and the Central Government allowed both States to take up two projects each.
In 2007, The Apex Court issued an order stating that both States can take up non-irrigation related projects that do not affect its order.
The Court stated the same in its 2018 order. After which, Karnataka took more interest in the Mekedatu project.
The Government decided to start the work by considering the feasibility report prepared between 2013 and 2019.
But the Tamil Nadu government raised objections to it. In order to clear all the doubts and objections of the Tamil Nadu government related to this project, Former Chief Minister, B. S. Yediyurappa had written a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M. K. Stalin.
But the TN government which refused to hold any talks, continues to oppose the Mekedatu project. Going a step further, the government held an all party meeting where it resolved to urge Karnataka to drop the project.