Context: The Karnataka government is likely to bring pressure on the Centre to approve the construction of the Mekedatu balancing reservoir that has been proposed to store water for drinking purposes.
Mekedatu dam project
- Being set up by the Karnataka government, the Mekedatu dam project is near Mekedatu, in Ramanagaram district, across the river Cauvery from Tamil Nadu.
- Its primary objective is to supply drinking water to Bengaluru and recharge the groundwater table in the region.
- The project has received approval from the Union Water Resources Ministry for the detailed project report and is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF).
- The approval from MOEF is crucial since 63% of the forest area will be submerged in Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The Mekedatu dam, with a capacity of 67 TMC, is set to come up near the confluence of the Arkavathy and Cauvery streams at a place called Sangama, inside the sanctuary, and will inundate around 50 sq. km of forests.
- The process cleared by the CWC needs further clearance from the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) too.
- Tamil Nadu has approached the Supreme Court against the project.
Why Tamil Nadu oppose the project?
Tamilnadu says that
- the project was meant to “appropriate the waters to maximum extent possible including the flows in the uncontrolled catchment which was considered as part of the flows receivable by Tamil Nadu.
- it violates the decisions of the Supreme Court and the Cauvery Tribunal.
- The Cauvery is the fourth-largest river in south India.
- It originates in the Western Ghats, at Brahmagiri Hill in Kodagu district of Karnataka.
- It passes through Tamil Nadu and finally reaches the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar, also known as Kaveripoompattinam in Tamil Nadu.
- The Cauvery basin is spread over 81,155 square kilometres (sq km) in the states of Karnataka (34,273 sq km), Tamil Nadu (43,856 sq km) and Kerala (2,866 sq km) and the Union Territory of Puducherry (160 sq km).
- The Cauvery’s major tributaries, Kabini and Moyar, join it before it reaches the Stanley Reservoir at Mettur in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district.
- The river’s total length, from source to mouth, is 802 kilometres.
Image Source: The Wire
Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary
- The CauveryWildlife Sanctuary was constituted under Section 18 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1973.
- It consists of reserve forests in Chamarajnagar, Ramanagar and Mandya Districts of Karnataka State.
- The river Cauvery, which is the lifeline of southern Karnataka forms the boundary of a major part of the sanctuary and also gives it its name.
- The river supports a diversified fauna, predominant species being the critically endangered orange-finned mahseer and the endemic grizzled giant squirrel.
- Mugger crocodiles (listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act), smooth-coated otters are among other creatures.
- The orange-finned mahseer is endemic to the Cauvery basin and is critically endangered.