Cauvery impasse: No breakthrough at meet convened by Centre
Union Minister Uma Bharti is presiding over a meeting convened by the Centre to find a political solution to the “impasse” over sharing of Cauvery water by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Tamil Nadu PWD Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy are taking part in the meet which is being held in line with the Supreme Court’s order asking Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to facilitate a meeting to reach a solution to the inter-state water crisis.
Karnataka Water Resources Minister MB Patil, chief secretaries of the two states Arvind Jadhav (Karnataka) and Rama Mohana Rao (Tamil Nadu) are the other officials present in the meeting.
Prior to attending the meeting, Siddaramaiah reiterated Karnataka’s “severe difficulties” in meeting its water requirement and expressed hope that the meeting would arrive at a solution which is in the interest of its people.
“22 of our districts have been declared drought-hit for the Kharip 2016 season. We are struggling with managing water requirements. We hope for a solution in state’s interest,” he said. Ahead of the meeting, Karnataka had on Wednesday decided to defer release of 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu as per the Supreme Court direction, awaiting outcome of the trilateral parleys.
At the meeting, Tamil Nadu accused upper riparian Karnataka of treating with “utter contempt” Supreme Court’s orders on river water sharing and defying them “deliberately and systematically”.
It alleged that Karnataka has not released the stipulated annual water quantum of 192 TMC ft, as ordered by Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in its final order in 2007, in any of the years, “except when the reservoirs in Karnataka could not hold the surplus flows”.
In her written speech for the meeting, read out by state chief secretary Rama Mohana Rao, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa also voiced concern over “spate of arson and violence unleashed on Tamils living in Karnataka”.
Jayalalithaa could not attend the meeting as she is unwell. “The deliberate defiance goes against the spirit of the Constitution itself and amounts to contempt of the apex court. Karnataka has not followed the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court and has on the other hand permitted unruly elements,” Palaniswamy quoted Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as stating in her written speech. She termed as “orchestrated” the alleged targeting of Tamils in Karnataka following SC’s interim order on September 5 which asked the upper riparian state to release 15,000 cusecs of water per day for 10 days to her state.
“Tamils had been persecuted and attacked with impunity by frenzied mobs with little or no effective restraint or action by the Karnataka authorities. “In contrast, despite the dire provocation, Tamil Nadu government had taken every effort to ensure that law and order is maintained perfectly,” she said.
In the context of Karnataka “continuously taking defiant stance”, she wondered if the “meeting would serve intended purpose unless Karnataka can be prevailed upon to honour Supreme Court’s directions.”
Noting Tamil Nadu is in “dire need” of water, she urged the Centre to ensure Karnataka obeys the Supreme Court order and releases water as directed by the apex court besides clearing the backlog of 76.042 TMC ft as on September 26.
Jayalalithaa insisted that the Centre constitute the Cauvery Water Management Board as ordered by the Supreme Court.
However, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Tamil Nadu is in a “more comfortable” position than his state.
He said the ground reality is such that “no further releases from Karnataka can be directed without destroying the standing crops and causing shortages in the drinking water supplies”.
May go on hunger strike if fight goes on: Uma
Union minister Uma Bharti on Thursday appealed for peace between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on Cauvery water issue and said she may go on hunger strike on the border of the two riparian states if there is any report of fight between them.
A meeting convened by the Centre on Thursday to iron out the differences between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on the impasse, failed to achieve any breakthrough.
Talking to mediapersons after chairing the meeting, she said “no problem should prevail there” over water sharing as long as Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister and she is the Union Water Resources Minister. No solution could be arrived at the meeting as Tamil Nadu did not accept Karnataka’s proposal for sending a central expert team to assess availability of water in Cauvery basin.
“I am appealing to both the states... I am not threatening, it is an appeal, if I hear a single thing (about fight), I am going to sit on hunger strike on the border of the two states,” Bharti said.
She said the meeting took place close on the heels of Centre’s efforts to broker peace between Odisha and Chhattisgarh over Mahanadi river water, and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh over Krishna water dispute, although this is a state subject.