With rain gods in generous mood, sparks may not fly over sharing Cauvery water this year

Anil Urs Bengaluru | Updated on October 12, 2020

Bountiful rains in the Cauvery catchment area indicates that the periodic tug-of-war between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of Cauvery waters likely to take a back seat this year.

“We don’t see any problem. So far adequate water has been released,” said a senior water resources department official.

Karnataka had a good rainfall between August and September, which covered the season’s shortfall. Now Tamil Nadu awaits the Mettur reservoir to cross the 100 feet mark. As on October 12, Mettur’s water level stood at 99.11 feet as against its capacity of 120 feet.

“In 2019, Karnataka faced double floods in less than three months. This year (2020), we have seen only one with an average inflow and outflow,” the water resources department official said.

Election fever

He added, “In addition to water outflow from Cauvery basin dams in four months, in the last week, there have been heavy rains in the downstream of Kabini, KRS dams and in the Bengaluru region, leading to water flow to Tamil Nadu.” But what is worrying Karnataka more is the State assembly elections in Tamil Nadu scheduled early next year (2021). The Cauvery water dispute usually takes gargantuan proportions during an election year, the past years have shown.

With good South-West monsoons rains getting over, this time around politicians in Karnataka don’t see demand for water. But what the State is worried about is the delay in giving permission to start the Mekedatu reservoir work.

The project aims to store and provide 4.75 tmc of water to fulfil the drinking water needs of Bengaluru city, without changing the quantum of Cauvery water flow to Tamil Nadu. At the moment, the State is awaiting environmental clearance after submitting a detailed project report to the Centre.

Both Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and State Water Resources Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi have met Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar seeking early clearance of the project. The recent Cauvery Water Management Authority’s (CWMA) meeting, which saw a sharp exchange of words between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, may be taken as a precursor to what is likely to follow. This will be played out loud in the run-up to the elections.

Published on October 12, 2020

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