Cauvery water dispute with TN: K’taka moves closer to solution
In a step that will ensure release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, the Karnataka legislature on Monday adopted a unanimous resolution empowering the government to take an ‘appropriate’ decision to provide water for irrigation to meet the state farmers’ demand.
The decision by both the Houses of the legislature at the second such special session in 10 days came on the day when the Supreme Court asked Karnataka government to apprise it by Tuesday afternoon whether it has released water to Tamil Nadu as directed by it on September 30.
Moved by the government, the resolution makes no mention about release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu or the Supreme Court orders, but it modified the September 23 resolution to draw water from the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin only for drinking purpose, to allow its use for irrigation also.
On September 30, the apex court had directed Karnataka to discharge 6,000 cusecs water from October 1-6, warning that no one would know when the “wrath of the law” would fall on it.
In his reply in the Assembly, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah gave strong indications of complying with the order of the Supreme Court to release water to Tamil Nadu, while assuring the people that government would make all efforts to meet drinking water needs and to save standing crops.
Siddaramaiah said the state had never defied the court orders and noted that “we are in a federal set up”.
Farmers in the Cauvery basin had been demanding release of water as otherwise the crops would wither, he said, adding, once it is released for them, some quantum would flow naturally to Tamil Nadu, where it would be recorded in the Biligundlu gauging station.
“The Supreme Court has said we have to release 6000 cusecs of water. We have to respect the court order. We are also expecting some quantum of water (rainfall),” he said without directly making any reference about release to Tamil Nadu, which is at loggerheads with the state on the issue.
He said in the last 10 days, there was inflow of an average of 7,000 cusecs per day into Cauvery basin reservoirs and if water is released into canals in the state,3,000 cusecs would flow naturally and be recorded at Biligundlu, besides seepage water. About 1,200 to 1,300 cusecs would also flow even if the crest gates are closed.
Official sources said once water is released for farmers in Cauvery basin for irrigation, it would naturally flow to Tamil Nadu.
The resolution also noted that the water storage levels in Hemavathy, Harangi, Kabini and Krishnaraja Sagar had increased to 34.13 TMC ft as of today from 27.60 TMC ft on September 23, when the legislature passed resolution to use it only to meet drinking water needs.
The resolution said the House has taken note of the demand of farmers in the Cauvery basin for release of water to save their crops.
“Taking into account all the factors, the House decides that the government can take a suitable decision on release of water for farmers for irrigation after making sure availability of water for drinking purpose and the state’s interests,” it said.
The resolution also came on a day when Karnataka heaved a sigh of relief with the Centre telling the Supreme Court it cannot be directed to set up Cauvery Water Management Board, but was forming a technical panel to assess ground realities to defuse the wrangle between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who mentioned the Centre’s application, also urged a Supreme Court bench to review or recall the order asking it to set up the CWMB on the ground that the issue fell under the domain of the legislature.
Siddaramaiah said a Special Leave Petition filed by the Karnataka government, challenging the Cauvery water dispute tribunal’s award would come up for hearing on October 18, which was “very important for us to keep in mind”.