The dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of Cauvery waters is decades old. For many years, both the states have been maintaining differences over the sharing of water.
Karnataka intends to build a reservoir across river Cauvery near Mekedatu in Kanakapura taluk. It was first proposed along with Shivanasamudra hydro power project at Shimsa in 2003 with an intention to use the water for a hydro power station and supply drinking water to Bengaluru city.
However, Tamil Nadu objected saying Karnataka had not sought prior permission for the project. Its argument was that the project would affect the flow of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.
On March 27, Tamil Nadu adopted a resolution urging the Centre to stop Karnataka from going ahead with the project. Karnataka stated that it will not go by the whims and fancies of Tamil Nadu and said that it will use only the excess water after supplying 192 tmcft to Tamil Nadu as per the Cauvery water tribunal order.
According to experts, Mekedaatu, located about 110 km from Bengaluru, could address the city's growing thirst in the near future provided neighbouring Tamil Nadu does not spoil Karnataka's plans.
Following the green signal from the legal experts, the state government has decided to develop a 'Balancing Reservoir' or 'Mini KRS' (Krishna Raja Sagar reservoir near Mysuru) near Mekedaatu for supplying potable water to Bengaluru and parts of Mysuru region in the near future.
Running out of options to meet the growing potable water requirements of IT capital of the country, the state government was contemplating various alternatives other than the Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) reservoir to quench the thirst of Bengaluru. But an in-house study by the major irrigation department seems to have discovered solutions to water Bengaluru in the next decade.
The state government has already floated global expression of interest in this regard for construction of balancing reservoir at Mekedaatu and already six global firms have submitted expression of interest (EoI).
According to irrigation minister M B Patil, the project would not in any way harm private land either directly or indirectly. "As per the report prepared by a Bengaluru based company about 2,500 acres of forest area will be submerged and not an inch of private land will be affected."
Since it is for potable purpose, the government need not take approval from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for this project.
It is estimated that after supplying 192 tmc ft water to Tamil Nadu as per the agreement between the two states, another 250 tmc ft water flows to Tamil Nadu, which further joins the sea. The Karnataka government wants to tap this additional water and use it for drinking water needs of Bengaluru. It could either build one reservoir or two reservoirs with 25 tmc capacities each.