New Delhi/Bengaluru, Dec 27 Union Minister for Water Resources Nitin Gadkari will convene a meeting of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers on the implementation of the controversial Cauvery river project at Mekedatu for drinking water supply, said an official on Wednesday.
"Gadkari conveyed the decision on the proposed meeting to Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy when they met in New Delhi," said an official of the Chief Minister's Office in Bengaluru in a statement.
Karnataka has sought the Central government's approval to build a dam at Mekedatu on the river near Kanakapura in Ramanagaram district, about 100km southwest of Bengaluru, for storing and supplying its water to the parched districts of Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts.
Objecting to the project fearing denial of its share of the river water, Tamil Nadu has also petitioned the Central government and the Supreme Court not to allow Karnataka to build the balancing reservoir at the goat's leap gorge.
"Kumaraswamy has sought Gadkari's intervention to resolve the issue between the two riparian states and convince Tamil Nadu that the project would be beneficial to both the neighbouring states," said the statement.
As sharing the river water for agriculture and drinking in the state's old Mysuru region became contentious, leading to the apex court modifying the inter-state dispute tribunal award, storing it (water) at Mekedatu for drinking only has turned into a protracted legal and political battle.
"Tamil Nadu is objecting central permission in mid-November to Karnataka to even prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for building the dam on the grounds that storing water would deny its share for its farmers in the delta region," an official of the state Water Resources Department told here.
The project is estimated to cost the state a whopping Rs 5,192 crore.
Tamil Nadu has also disputed Karnataka's claim on the project's purpose, as storing the river water will allow it generate hydel power and thus restrict its flow into its delta region.
Kumaraswamy also sought Gadkari's intervention to make Goa allow Karnataka utilise the Mahadayi river water for drinking purpose in the four drought-prone districts in the state's northwest region.
"Though the inter-state river tribunal has permitted Karnataka to utilise the water for drinking purpose, the Goa government has approached the top court against the tribunal award, which is in the state's favour," said the official.
In a related development, Gadkari, who is also the Surface Transport Minister, has agreed to build an elevated highway between Hubballi and Dharwad, about 400km from Bengaluru to ease the gridlock between the twin cities in the state's northwest region.
"Gadkari has directed the state government to complete the land acquisition to allow the state-run National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to begin the elevated road projected work," added the statement.
State PWD Minister and Kumaraswamy's elder brother H.D. Revanna, state Chief Secretary T.M. Vijayabhaskar and Additional Chief Secretary to Chief Minister E.V. Ramana Reddy were present on the occasion.
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