Karnataka and Tamil Nadu clashed over Mekedatu project

What is the Mekedatu project?

  • The Mekedatu dam project is located in Ramanagaram district about 100 km south of Bengaluru (Karnataka), close to where the Cauvery enters Tamil Nadu.
  • Mekedatu is a multipurpose balancing reservoir project focussing on the generation of electricity and supply of drinking water in the region.
  • In 1996, the project was first planned by the Karnataka Power Corporation to meet the water and electricity needs of the people in Bengaluru and the surrounding districts.
  • The dam aims to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and replenish the regional groundwater table.
  • The Mekedatu dam will be larger than the Krishnaraja Sagar project on the Cauvery.

Opposition to the project

  • Tamil Nadu witnessed widespread protests against the dam in 2015, with a statewide bandh.
  • The state Assembly passed unanimous resolutions against the project in December 2018 and January 2022.
  • In August 2021, Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court against the project.
  • Tamil Nadu’s key arguments are that Karnataka is attempting to modify the flow of the river by constructing two reservoirs on it.
  • The action violates the final award of the CRWT, and would impound the flow in the intermediate catchment below the Krishnaraja Sagar and Kabini reservoirs, and Billigundulu, along the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The Supreme Court Verdict

  • Tamil Nadu approached the centre for setting up a tribunal to decide the allocation of water between the states.
  • In 1990, the tribunal was set up and in 2007 allocated the water to Karnataka (270 tmcft), Kerala (30 tmcf) t0, Puducherry 97 tmcft) and Tamil Nadu (419 tmcft) and allocation would stand reduced in rain-scarcity years.
  • TN and Karnataka were not satisfied with this allocation and violent protests erupted which brought the Supreme Court into the Picture.
  • In the 2018 judgment, the court redistributed the share of water between both states.
  • Now, TN granted 404.25 tmcft and Karnataka’s share went up to 284.75 tmcft while share for Kerala and Puducherry remained the same.

Environmental concerns

  • Environmental activists have argued that due to submerging of land by the dam, the Cauvery Wildlife Wildlife Sanctuary area, which is a key elephant corridor will be severely affected.
  • Apart from being home to many endangered wildlife species, the sanctuary also acts as a buffer area for wildlife animals.
  • It will lead to more man-animal conflict.


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