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Indian Polity

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked why the Mekedatu dam project cannot be envisioned as a facility to store excess water from Karnataka, which can be released to Tamil Nadu.

The suggestion was mooted by a three-judge Special Bench, led by Justice Dipak Misra, during the hearing of appeals in the Cauvery case.

The discussion touched upon the Mekedatu project when Karnataka provided statistics of Cauvery water released to Tamil Nadu from 2007, post the tribunal award. Karnataka submitted that except for two drought-ridden years, the water released had never decreased below the 192 tmc ordered by the tribunal.

Tamil Nadu retorted, saying only excess water was released by Karnataka.

‘Can be storage facility’

At this point, Karnataka submitted that the Mekedatu dam project could be used as storage facility for excess water, to be released whenever Tamil Nadu required so.

Tamil Nadu indicated that it was agreeable to the proposition, provided that such an arrangement was under the control and supervision of an independent third party. The court also said that it may not be feasible to construct a new dam for storage in Tamil Nadu, and asked both States to put the proposition before the Centre when it begins its arguments in the Cauvery case next week.

In 2015, Karnataka had termed the challenge posed by Tamil Nadu to the construction of Shivasamudram and Mekedatu hydro power projects as “misconceived, obstructive and factually baseless”.

The Karnataka government told the Supreme Court that the two reservoirs would neither diminish nor reduce the river’s downstream flow.

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