Karnataka CM says work will begin on Mekedatu, protests in TN

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(Eds: Updates with TN inputs, combines related stories) Bengaluru/Chennai, Jul 13 (PTI) The Mekedatu dam row between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu continued on Tuesday with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa asserting that work for the reservoir would start,while protests were staged in many parts of the Tamil state and Puducherry against the initiative.

Union Jalshakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat assured 'justice' to Karnataka, vis-a-vis pending projects, while veteran CPI leader D Raja urged the Centre to not allow the dispute between the two neighbours to escalate into a conflict.

In several parts of the Cauvery delta region in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the Cauvery Rights Retrieval Committee staged protests, condemning efforts by Karnataka to build the dam and Yediyurappa's effigies were burnt in a number of locations amid a scuffle between protesters and police.

After discussing Karnataka related projects, including the Mekedatu, with Shekhawat in Bengaluru and seeking clearances from the Centre, Yediyurappa said Karnataka had every right on the reservoir matter.

'I don't want to discuss about Tamil Nadu or any other state. We have got every right and we are going to start the work,' Yediyurappa said in response to a question on Tamil Nadu's objection to the Mekedatu project.

Shekhawat assured Karnataka that all issues with regard to providing clearances from the Centre for implementation of projects would be resolved, Yediyurappa said.

The discussions were on the gazette notification of the Krishna tribunal award, Environment Ministry clearance for the Mekedatu project, Upper Krishna Project, Kalasa-Banduri Nala Project, implementation of Yettinahole project, among others.

Shekhawat said all projects related to Karnataka were discussed in the meeting with Yediyurappa. The union minister said he has assured the Karnataka CM that he would look into pending projects, especially the Mekedatu dam project.

'I have assured that we will look deep into the issues pertaining to Karnataka. We will organise a meeting in Delhi, after having studied all these things.

I assure that justice will be given to the state of Karnataka,' Shekhawat said.

Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said the CM apprised the union minister about the Mekedatu issue and urged him to expedite clearances pending before the Centre.

In Tamil Nadu, volunteers of the Cauvery Committee carried banners that read 'Let us stop the Mekedatu dam, let us burn Yediyurappa's effigy' and staged protests in 28 locations, including urban and rural areas.

Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Tiruchirappalli, Mannargudi and Chidambaram were among the places in the Cauvery delta region where protests were held.

A similar protest was held in Puducherry to 'protect Karaikkal' region's right on the matter.

Besides Puducherry town, the Karnataka CM's effigies were burnt by committee volunteers in Tamil Nadu amid scuffles in a number of places between them and police personnel, who tried to prevent it by taking away the effigies.

Police dispersed the protesters and they were also detained for a while in several locations.

CPI general secretary D Raja told reporters in Chennai that 'the Narendra Modi government should not try to sustain itself in power by allowing the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to escalate into a conflict over the Mekedatu dam project.

The issue should be approached on historical background and moral grounds.' Both the states have equal rights in sharing the Cauvery river water and Tamil Nadu's concern over the Mekedatu dam project and plea for Cauvery water is just, he said and added that the Centre should create harmony between the two states and resolve the issue amicably.

Raja said 'Modi talks about cooperation and federalism.

Where has cooperative federalism gone now?' PTI KSU JSP VGN APR ADMINISTRATOR VGN APR ADMINISTRATOR

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