Cauvery Calling: Focus on Cauvery in manifestos

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The BJP says that work on the Mekedatu project will start by 2023

 The Cauvery river now finds a prominent place in the manifestos of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Janata Dal(Secular) (JD(S)) for the Karnataka elections in 2023.

Most political parties in Karnataka, in their manifesto,  are promising to start work on the Mekedatu project in 2023 to ensure drinking water supply to Bengaluru.

Prathap Kanagal, Spokesperson of JD(S), Karnataka said, “We have already made and submitted a report to the union government through the governor, about our plan regarding the Mekedatu project, once we come to power.”

He added, “We will work on the Mekedatu project in a way that does not bother Tamil Nadu (TN) or the environment.

According to a report by South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers, and People, the Supreme Court (SC) of India passed the judgment on the Cauvery Water Dispute in February 2018 saying that Karnataka for the next 15 years has to release 177.25 thousand million cubic feet (TMC) to Tamil Nadu.

Ananda Prasad, spokesperson for KPCC said, “Almost Rs.1000 crores have been allotted for the Mekedatu project by the BJP central government, but nothing has been done about it yet.”

He further said, “Action should be taken on the excessive water that gets diverted to TN and we will take the TN government to court for building a dam, and for the excessive water flow that is not being diverted back to Bengaluru.”

He said, “Once Karnataka acquires land to build the canal that TN is opposing, the court definitely will favour Karnataka and not TN which is bringing up this issue just to appease its people.”

The Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) and the Cauvery Water Regulation Authority were set up in 2018 to make decisions regarding the Cauvery Water Dispute. The CWMA is authorized to store, regulate and control the Cauvery water. It is in charge of the regulated release of Cauvery water by Karnataka at the discharge station in Billigundulu.

The aim of the Mekedatu project is to provide drinking water to Bengaluru and supply water to the delta farmers in the Cauvery basin.

Pratap from JD(S) says, “TN is not taking any excess water, as the water supply is anyway limited.”.”

He also said that Karnataka is not properly utilizing the existing water resources from Cauvery and that JD(S) will ensure that it is properly utilized in Karnataka and that TN regularly receives water from the Cauvery

Manjunath, Bangalore City Central president, BJP said, “The issue is already in court, there is no legal action that the KPCC can take again.”

He added, “Cauvery water dispute is also an important part of our manifesto.”

Manjunath also mentions that the Mekedatu project has been approved by the BJP central government and will start in 2023.


A report by Economic Times, mentions that the Cauvery issue has been an ongoing issue from the time of the British era in India, regarding a contract signed by the Madras presidency and the princely state of Mysore. In 1910, the Madras presidency objected to the building of a dam in the Cauvery River. After which a tribunal was formed to look after the issue.  Many years later, both TN and Karnataka have protests and sometimes discussions about the sharing of water. Karnataka wanted to build a canal, which is being opposed by the TN government. There were several protests in Karnataka in 2013 and several ‘Tamil’ people in Karnataka were attacked, while in TN the Karnataka-based businesses were attacked by the people.  There has been no talk on the Cauvery dispute between the states in the last 6 years, after the 2018 tribunal award.

Veena, a ward member of the AAP said, “We are not currently focusing on the Cauvery issue, our manifestos focus is only on development in Karnataka and to prevent corruption.”

Dr. SY Surendra Kumar, Political Science Professor said, “Cauvery issue always becomes a topic during elections. Political parties in Karnataka will also only work in a way that does not antagonize the Tamil voters in Karnataka.”

He added, “Manifestos may or may not translate into action. These issues only come up because of the momentum of elections.”

*Feature Image Credit: WRIS Basin Report Cover