Krishna Raja Sagara
[Representational Image]IANS File Photo

Kerala has just declared all its districts as drought-hit and now its move to build a dam of 4.5 tmcft across the Siruvani river has been stopped by the Central government. The Centre has deemed that consent needs to be obtained from the Tamil Nadu government or the references filed in the Supreme Court against the order of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal have to be settled before the Kerala government can embark on the dam construction.

Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa has been taking up this issue with the Centre since 2012. According to a report in The New Indian Express, a communication was sent from the Centre to the Tamil Nadu government in this regard. It stated: "The matter has been examined in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and it has been decided to keep the recommendations by Expert Appraisal Committee, in abeyance, till the references filed in Supreme Court against the order of Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal are settled or get a positive consent for the ensuing Project from Government of Tamil Nadu."

Jayalalithaa had first written to PM Manmohan Singh on June 21, 2012 regarding the construction of this dam of 4.5 tmcft across the Siruvani river for Attapadi Irrigation Scheme. She had stated that the proposal was in violation of the final order of the Cauvery Tribunal. The TN CM had urged Manmohan Singh to not allow the Kerala government to proceed on this proposal.

On August 26, 2016, Jayalalithaa again wrote to PM Narendra Modi asking him to withdraw the recommendations made by the Expert Appraisal Committee for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects of the Ministry of Environment. The committee had asked for a grant of Standard Terms of Reference for conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study on the Kerala government's proposal. In her letter, she added that the recommendations had been made by the Committee without considering the Tamil Nadu government's decisions or comments in their March meeting.

Meanwhile, the dispute over Cauvery water continues between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Karnataka Government finally relented and has allowed water to be released for crops and drinking in accordance with the Supreme Court directive. Many areas in Karnataka have also been hit by drought due to less rains this year.