Caught between farmers and the opposition parties, the state government is working on a strategy that would get Karnataka a good deal when the Cauvery Supervisory Committee meets on Monday to decide the quantum of water to be released to Tamil Nadu.
“We can’t afford mistakes now. We’ll apprise the committee, headed by water resources secretary Shashi Shekhar, of the distress situation in the state and our inability to release water,” a senior irrigation official said. The meeting in New Delhi will be attended by the chief secretaries of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and officials of the Central Water Commission.
Tamil Nadu has requested the committee to guarantee its share of water as per the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal order. Karnataka has appealed for reduced water release because of poor storage levels in the four Cauvery basin reservoirs.
The Supreme Court had on Sept 5 asked Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for 10 days.
The Siddarammaiah government came under fire for reportedly offering to release 10,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu when the court was hearing the case. Kannada organizations, which shut the state on September 9, have given a railroko call on September 15. The BJP has accused the CM of a botch-up. After a tour of Mandya district, party’s state president BS Yeddyurappa said: “It’s the sheer negligence on the part of Karnataka government and its advocates that has triggered the turmoil. The government should have convinced the top court about the water shortage instead of making a release offer.”
Yeddyurappa has asked the Siddaramaiah government to pay compensation to farmers if crops fail because of water shortage.
Former water resources minister Basavaraj Bommai, also from BJP, said: “The supervisory committee meeting on Monday is crucial for Karnataka, which should cogently present its case at least now. It’s learnt that the four Cauvery districts of Tamil Nadu aren’t facing any distress and have a good groundwater table. Karnataka must insist that a team of experts visits the Cauvery catchment area and takes stock of the situation before passing any order.”
I advised CM, claims Deve Gowda
Former PM HD Deve Gowda on Sunday claimed he advised CM Siddaramaiah to release water to Tamil Nadu. The ties between two leaders are frosty, at best. After an aerial survey of the Cauvery basin reservoirs, Gowda said: “I advised the government to follow the court order because defiance would negatively impact our fight for justice. Moreover, the final arguments on the Cauvery tribunal award start on October 18 in the Supreme Court and we should not show disrespect to the court.”
Farmers’ organizations in Mandya have convened a meeting of legislators from Cauvery basin constituencies in Bengaluru on Wednesday to discuss the issue with Siddaramaiah. They have threatened to gherao legislators who abstain from the meeting.
Rain in Kodagu triggers hopes
Bengaluru: Amid rising protests in the state against the Supreme Court order mandating release of Cauvery water, rainfall in the catchment area of the river, after a long lull in monsoon, sparked hope of increase in water levels in the state’s reservoirs.
The meteorological department said Kodagu district registered 16mm rainfall in the past two days. The department officials added that the district was short of 450mm rainfall this month.
An agriculture officer from Kodagu, however, opined that it was too early to conclude if the rainfall in the past two days could address the deficit of rain in the region. “We are hoping against hope that the rain will continue for the next ten days to avert a possible drinking water crisis in the summer. It would also provide a natural resolution to the ongoing waterwar.