‘But the project will help Bengaluru a lot’
Since most of the water is stored downstream, 95 per cent of the benefit of the Mekedatu project will benefit Tamil Nadu, said M. Lakshmana, Chairman of Institution of Engineers, India, on Tuesday.
Participating in a discussion in Bengaluru, he said: “The main reason to build a dam is to generate power. Other than that, the Karnataka government has asked permission to have drinking water facilities,” he added.
Talking about the existing dams on the Cauvery, he said: “There are already four dams on the river. But the biggest dam is the proposed Mekedatu dam.”
The Mekedatu project, though, will be useful for Bengaluru’s sustainability. “Their storage will remain the same, but the pressure on the existing four dams will come down.”
About the building and maintenance of other dams in the country, he said: “Maharashtra has got 1,786 dams. All over India, we have 5,386 dams. They don’t have any issues regarding the construction of dams. Why here?”
Enti Ranga Reddy, Honorary Secretary of the Institution of Engineers, said: “The whole point of this discussion is to give technological suggestions and to educate the general public.”
Dayanand K, a citizen and former employee at the National Aeronautics Laboratory, said Tamil Nadu should contribute to the cost of the Mekedatu dam. “Since Tamil Nadu is also a beneficiary, they should contribute half of the expenses.”
Lawyer Anil of the Karnataka High Court said: “I am in favor of the project. It will solve Bengaluru’s drinking problem and water wastage problem.”
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science said it could have a huge ecological cost. The first analysis of the economic worth of forest resources stated that the project could submerge 52 sq km of forest area and destroy forests worth Rs 8,160 crore.
In 2019, the Government of Karnataka had submitted a report to the Center informing them about the plan to construct a reservoir at Mekedatu. The project aims to ensure adequate drinking water supply to Bengaluru.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have been at loggerheads over the Cauvery water sharing issue.
Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin has argued that there have been protests against the project across his state. The protesters have approached the Supreme Court against an order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT). They have said NGT did not take the environmental damage into consideration.
The total allocation of water to Karnataka in a year is 284 tmcft. Out of this, 177 tmcft is released to TN in phases.