TN Assembly urges Centre to rescind nod for Mekedatu DPR

Chennai: Tamilnadu Assembly Friday adopted an unanimous resolution urging the Centre to withdraw permission given to Karnataka for preparing a Detailed Project Report for a dam across Cauvery river at Mekedatu.

The resolution moved by Chief Minister K Palaniswami at a specially convened sitting condemned the Central Water Commission (CWC) for giving the permission on 22 November.

It urged the Union Water Resources Ministry “to immediately order the CWC to withdraw the permission.” It also requested the Centre to direct Karnataka not to take up any construction works by it or through its agencies at Mekedatu or at any other place in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka without the consent of Tamilnadu and in violation of the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal and the judgement of the Supreme Court.

Palaniswami later wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi enclosing a copy of the resolution and its translated version, requesting him to take immediate action and direct the Water Resources Ministry to withdraw the CWC’s nod.

Tracing the Cauvery dispute between the two states, he said it was due to the “untiring” efforts of late chief minister Jayalalithaa and the intervention of the Supreme Court that the final award of the tribunal was notified.

The apex court, in its judgement had affirmed that the upper riparian state shall not take any action so as to affect the scheduled deliveries of water to the lower riparian states,” he said in the letter, a copy of which was released to media.

Earlier in the assembly, replying to the discussion on the resolution, the chief minister said the Centre’s “partisan attitude” on the Cauvery issue was causing anguish. Seeking unanimous passage of the resolution, after members of the opposition parties spoke on it, he said the government has moved the Supreme Court against the permission for DPR on 30 November and also opposed it vehemently in the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) meeting on 3 December.

Also, a plea seeking contempt action against the CWC chairman, the Karnataka Water Resources Minister, and higher officials of the neighbouring state had been filed in the apex court, he said.

Leader of the Opposition and DMK President M K Stalin wanted the resolution to be condemnatory of the Central government, maintaining that the approval for DPR was against federalism. The nearly two-hour long special sitting also saw some noisy scenes when the treasury benches and the DMK sparred after the latter’s deputy leader Duraimurugan said the contribution of their late leader M Karunanidhi did not find a mention in Palaniswami’s reply to the discussion.

Speaker P Dhanapal, appealing for order, put the resolution to vote which was unanimously adopted through a voice vote. Earlier, Stalin said the state should have obtained an injunction against building a dam at Mekedatu from the Supreme Court and sought to know why the AIADMK government did not press for appointment of a full-time head CMB.

Presently, the Union Water Resources Minister is also the head of the CMB, he said. The DMK leader said as head of the ministry he had accorded sanction but as the CMB chief the same person had said a dam cannot be built without the nod of the board.

When Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy openly talked about getting nod for Mekedatu dam in a week, an all-party delegation or MPs from the state should have met the Prime Minister to scuttle the move, he said.

Extending his party’s full support to the state government on the issue, Stalin said it should courageously fight to ensure that the Centre does not allow the dam to be built. The resolution recalled that on 5 December 2014 and 27 March 2015 the assembly had passed resolutions unanimously opposing any move by Karnataka to construct a new dam at Mekedatu.

Despite the Supreme Court’s judgement that the upper riparian states should not implement any projects without the consent of the lower riparian states, Karnataka has proposed to commence preliminary works to construct a dam at Mekedatu, the resolution noted.

Duraimurugan said that in the previous resolutions, the reference was made to two dams and wanted to know why the present resolution was not similarly worded. Responding, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said now the matter was confined only to Mekedatu.

Stalin attempted to raise the issues faced by people devastated by recent cyclone Gaja and wanted the sitting to be extended till tomorrow to discuss it. However, Panneerselvam, the Leader of the House, said the focus of the sitting should be on the resolution for which it was convened. The House was adjourned sine die after adoption of the resolution.