Confident of nod for Mekedatu: CM HD Kumaraswamy

Bengaluru: It has been pending for around 35 years, but now the Union government could soon clear the parallel reservoir project that Karnataka has planned at Mekedatu to help it store more of the Cauvery river water, which currently finds its way into the sea for want of a storage facility.

Announcing this here on Friday, Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy said the Centre's consent letter for the reservoir, which would be multi-utility in nature for both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, was expected in about a week. 

The Chief Minister, who was speaking to reporters after meeting Union Water Resources Minister,  Nitin Gadkari, said he had  agreed to clear the project after he was informed about the Cauvery water running off into the sea when it could be stored for times of distress. Noting that the reservoirs in Kerala and Karnataka had  filled up ahead of time due to the good monsoon this year, he said the state was forced to release over 349 tmc ft of water to Tamil Nadu, and of this over 200 tmc ft had drained off into the sea for want of a proper storage facility.

"We have two more months of the monsoon to go  and seeing the amount of rain that the Kerala and Cauvery basins have received, more water is likely to be released to Tamil Nadu, although under the  tribunal's order we are supposed to release only 177.5 tmc ft water to it annually. If there was a parallel reservoir at Mekedatu, we could store some of the water ourselves for  use in times of distress. After this was explained to Mr Gadkari, he  agreed to permit the construction of  reservoir at Mekedatu," Mr Kumaraswamy said, adding that some of the additional water could be used for drinking in Bengaluru and other towns. "We could also use it for power generation," he pointed out .

The state will, however, need to get clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests as well for the project before it can take off. 
On the Mahadayi river water issue, Kumaraswamy said the state government has requested the Centre to issue a notification allowing it to utilise the water alotted by the Mahadayi River Water Tribunal. 

The Tribunal in its August 14 order had allotted 13.5 TMC of water to Karnataka from the river, while Goa and Maharashtra have been allowed to use 24 TMC and 1.33 TMC of water respectively. Meanwhile, the Goa government has moved a notice to the Tribunal seeking clarification on the order. In the meeting, Kumaraswamy said the state demanded that the Centre should issue the notification before the Tribunal takes up Goa's notice seeking clarification. He also reminded several instances of the past. 

"There is a scope to issue the notification. To start the Mahadayi work, the notification is required. They (Centre) responded positively," he said. 

With regards to roads, the CM sought more funds to repair highways, which have been damaged due to recent floods. The state government demanded immediate release of Rs 250 crore to the state for undertaking reconstruction and rebuilding of the damaged national highways. A 512.45 km stretch of national highways has been damaged.

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