The morning session of the Lok Sabha saw barely 20 minutes of business on Thursday as legislators from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu protested over the proposed Mekedatu dam project on the Cauvery river. As MPs from Tamil Nadu raised slogans against the proposed project in Karnataka, which has already received the Union government’s conditional clearance, Parliamentarians from Karnataka sitting on treasury and opposition benches came together to back construction of the dam.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House after the legislators were joined by TDP MPs seeking special assistance for Andhra Pradesh’s new capital and Congress lawmakers raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal.
AIADMK’s P Venugopal started a short-lived discussion on the topic after an adjournment motion, calling it a “very serious livelihood issue of lakhs of farmers of Tamil Nadu”, referring to the permission granted for the project by the Central Water Commission (CWC) to Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited, Karnataka. He said the CWC allowed preparation of DPR for construction of reservoir “in clear violation of the award given by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal”.
“It is being constructed not just for drinking water, but also to increase the extent of irrigation,” Venugopal said. He claimed that the CWC “did not consider the genuine and justifiable objection of Tamil Nadu” and “this is going to affect the livelihood of lakhs of farmers who depend on Cauvery water”.
Venugopal mentioned that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 27 asking the Centre to “instruct the CWC to withdraw the permission”. Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a unanimous resolution, he said, during a special sitting on December 6 and sent it to the Union Government.
Speaking later, Dharwad MP Prahlad Joshi of the BJP emphasised that the project only aims to store water for drinking and not for irrigation. He said that it is a “balancing reservoir” and “the in-principle approval is given for it”. Karnataka will not utilise “that water for irrigation, and the entire water that will be stored in Mekedatu will further flow to Tamil Nadu”.
The Speaker adjourned the House as protesting leaders from Karnataka raised slogans in the Well, joined by TDP members demanding special assistance for Andhra Pradesh’s new capital Amravati and Congress legislators raising slogans over Rafale deal.
However, an AIADMK leader continued protesting even after the session was adjourned, saying there was a partnership between Congress and BJP in Karnataka.
Parliamentarians from Karnataka carried similar placards which did not bear the name of a party or logo, stating “Cauvery Karnataka’s Right, We Support Mekedatu”.
Earlier in the morning, Karnataka MPs from all parties met at the residence of Union Minister D V Sadananda Gowda to discuss the dam project. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation Ramesh Jigajinagi were also present. Gowda told reporters that Karnataka MPs will come together to support the dam project on December 27 as a response to their Tamil Nadu counterparts.