Tension over Tamil Nadu drinking water project

March 16th, 2008 - 8:16 pm ICT by admin  

Hogenakkal (Tamil Nadu), March 16 (IANS): Tension prevailed here Sunday following a visit by a team of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarians who were objecting to a Tamil Nadu drinking water project for the region. Former Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa led the BJP protestors.

Leaders from the Karnataka BJP alleged that the Tamil Nadu government, with the “tacit support of the UPA government at the Centre” has begun building “illegally” a dam across the river Cauvery near Hogenakkal on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border.

Expecting trouble from Karnataka Sunday, the Tamil Nadu government rushed a large contingent of police personnel to the border to ensure safety, especially of tourists and inter-state travellers.

The BJP parliamentarians have also claimed that a 400-acre island at the point where the river Cauvery enters Tamil Nadu to form the picturesque Hogenakkal waterfall is part of their state.

The waterfall is located about 450 km west of Chennai, in the region bordering Karnataka and attracts thousands of tourists every year.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Feb 26 laid the foundation stone for a drinking water project at Hogenakkal, to be constructed with an aid of Rs.11.4 million from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

The Hogenakkal Water Supply and Fluorosis Mitigation Project is expected to cover 6,755 households in three municipal areas, 17 panchayats and 18 town panchayats, benefiting about three million people.

Safe drinking water would be provided from the waterfall to the fluoride-affected towns and villages in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts, bordering Karnataka, at a total cost of Rs.13.3 billion. The Tamil Nadu government will bear the rest of the cost.

The Karnataka leaders have accused the Tamil Nadu government of “giving scant respect to the Cauvery water sharing dispute, still pending before the Supreme Court, and going ahead with the project”.

Pro-Kannada organisations, Chamarajanagara Zilla Horata Samithi and Hogenakkal Jalapatra Ulisi Samithi, are up in arms against the move of the Tamil Nadu government.

Karnataka Chief Secretary Sudhakar Rao said the state might approach the Supreme Court against the Tamil Nadu government’s drinking water project.

A planned joint survey of the waterfall area by the two states has not made any headway.

BJP MP from Karnataka Ananth Kumar raised the Hogenakkal water project in the Lok Sabha earlier in March and accused the Tamil Nadu government of “misleading the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal”, and sought an immediate halt to execution of the project.

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