Karnataka Opposition leader Siddaramaiah wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday expressing his displeasure over the statement made by Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on mediation over the Mekedatu project.
"I am writing this letter to strongly object to the statement made by the Union Jal Shakti minister and your cabinet colleague Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on the issue of the Mekedatu reservoir project. The remarks by the minister have hurt the sentiments of people of Karnataka who are patiently waiting for the Central government to give environmental clearance for the project," he said.
"We were hoping the 'Double Engine' government will add speed to the realisation of the aspirations of people, but in reality both the engines have ceased to pull the state to a better place today," he maintained.
Siddaramaiah said in the letter that the Minister in his statement on 5th February, 2022 has said, "I hope and wish that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu will resolve it, like how Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh did it. The two states have now agreed to connect Ken and Betwa rivers in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Any issue can be resolved if talks are held. The Centre can only facilitate and help technically, and for that, both states have to come forward."
This statement is politically motivated to make inroads into Tamil Nadu and is an attempt to mislead the people of Karnataka. We strongly object and condemn this statement made by the minister against the interests of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah stated.
Karnataka has the technical, moral and legal right to access excess water after releasing the rightful share of Tamil Nadu. About 60-70 TMC of excess water flows to Tamil Nadu every year from the Cauvery basin in Karnataka, which otherwise, can be judiciously used to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and the surrounding districts. Mekedatu reservoir will serve the best purpose in storing this excess water and also generate 400 MW of electricity. Tamil Nadu is using the Cauvery issue just for political reasons, he maintained.
The population of Bengaluru has already crossed 1.5 crore and more than 3.5 crore people are in the 12 districts where Cauvery water can be distributed. Only 30 per cent of the people in Bengaluru have access to Cauvery water, he stated.
Scarcity of water is a nightmare during summer or drought years and it is essential for us as representatives to be ready with solutions. Mekedatu reservoir can address the challenges we are facing to ensure smooth distribution of water to the Bengaluru region for the next 50 years. The Karnataka government has sent 2 DPRs to the Central government for approval, and unfortunately we are still waiting for the environmental clearance, he said.
Injustice from your government to Karnataka is not new even when it comes to irrigation and drinking water projects. Though legally resolved, Mahadayi project is yet to see the light of day and Mekedatu has become a political tool for the BJP to influence the Tamil Nadu electorate. Yettinahole, Upper Bhadra and Upper Krishna projects are progressing at a snail's pace due to lack of adequate funds, he said.
It is clear that your government at the Centre has failed to grant necessary clearances and the state government has failed to highlight the urgency of the project. I strongly condemn the Jal Shakti minister's statement and urge you to discuss the issue in the cabinet to make your colleagues understand the rights of Karnataka, to grant all the clearances at the earliest to implement the Mekedatu project, and to allocate additional funds for all the pending irrigation projects, Siddaramaiah stated.