Kerala committee urges tough stance on Cauvery
D Jose in Thiruvananthapuram
A committee appointed by the Kerala state government to study
electricity development has taken a defiant stand on the Cauvery
The 26-member committee headed by Communist Party of India-Marxist
politburo member E Balanandan has recommended immediate commencement
of work on three hydroelectric projects proposed on the tributaries
of the Cauvery without waiting for clearance from the federal
government or other agencies.
The projects, proposed 20 years ago, have been held up due to
an interstate dispute over the river waters. The initial cost
of the ventures was estimated at Rs 9 billion.
The committee felt that the immediate implementation of the projects
is now essential to establish Kerala's right to the Cauvery waters
as the state has been excluded from the dispute negotiations.
The committee noted that though Kerala has a right to share the
river waters, the states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are attempting
to settle the dispute bilaterally and apportion the waters between
themselves without consulting Kerala.
The committee's report, submitted to the Kerala government on
Sunday, January 2, said the state's inaction for 22 years, even
after a 1974 understanding, is being taken advantage of by neighbouring
The report noted that both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have constructed
irrigation and power projects downstream without consulting the
It pointed out that there are no strictures against Kerala's projects
from either the government of India or the Cauvery Tribunal nor
are there any legal compulsions on the state to ensure water for
downstream projects in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The committee insisted that Kerala's stand of desisting from executing
its projects pending amicable settlement of disputes with Tamil
Nadu and Karnataka is wrong.
The report felt that the state could not afford to surrender its
entire water resources of the Cauvery tributaries to Karnataka
and Tamil Nadu as the hydroelectric sources in the state are limited.
The committee has also rejected the memorandum of understanding
executed by the government with various agencies to generate 4300
MW of power using naphta as raw material.
The committee noted that large-scale dependence on naptha based
thermal power generation is not considered good for the state.
"There is practically no need to depend on this costly source
of power," the report claimed.
The committee has also accused the federal government of giving
the state a step-motherly treatment whenever the issue of environmental
clearance for its projects has come up.
It claimed that the federal and the state governments have failed
to recognise the subdued opposition to Kerala's projects on environmental
The committee called upon the state and the federal governments
to quickly initiate the Kerala schemes and get environmental clearance
It said Kerala has lost heavily by shelving of several major projects,
including the Silent Valley project, all on environmental grounds.
The new projects like the Pooyamkutty, are also turning out to
be a casualty to environmental objections, the committee said.
"Had at least three of these projects been cleared in the
early Eighties, the state would have escaped from the sustained
and worsening power crisis," the report claimed.
The committee has also mooted a separate power generation and
finance company under the government to finance and undertake
power projects. It has suggested several steps to ensure the autonomy
of the Kerala State Electricity Board and a rostrum of 10 per
cent on its investments.
The World Bank had denied funds to the board for its failure to
revamp the organisation and ensure a return of minimum 3 per cent.