Karnataka will take an-all party delegation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain the ground realities in the Cauvery river water sharing dispute. In addition, the State would seek a distress formula to share Cauvery water among the riparian States during its arguments in the Supreme Court, which is hearing the case on August 25.
“Opposition parties (BJP and Janata Dal-Secular) have agreed to cooperate with the government. We will explain the ground realities in the Cauvery issue to the Prime Minister. The all-party delegation will also urge the PM to notify the Krishna Tribunal 2 award and seek forest clearances for the Mahadayi drinking water project,” the Chief Minister told mediapersons after chairing the all-party meeting in Bengaluru on August 23.
“The delegation will also meet ministers of Jal Shakthi, and environment, forests and climate change seeking clearances for Mekedatu and Mahadayi projects.”
Stating that there was an unanimous opinion that there should be no politics in effort to protect the State’s water, land and language, he said, “There are two important things for the State now. One is the formula to share Cauvery water during distress years, and the need for permission for Mekedatu balancing reservoir. The Mekedatu project will have a storage capacity of 67 tmcft of water. It will help release of water during distress years.”
When his reaction was sought over the allegation of BJP that the State delayed its response on the Cauvery issue, he said, “Tamil Nadu always argues that Karnataka does not follow orders. We did not want that to happen. That is why the meeting has been called now. Meanwhile, we have sought reconsideration of the order of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (that has directed release of 10,000 cusecs daily for 15 days).”
Providing data on the release of water, the Chief Minister said, “Between June and August, Karnataka has to release 86.38 tmcft of water, as per the February 2018 order of the Supreme Court. However, due to poor rainfall in the catchment areas of Cauvery, Kabini, Harangi and Hemavathy, we were unable to release the stipulated amount of water. As on August 20, Karnataka had released a total of 24.05 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu.”
He said that Karnataka is facing rain deficit this year, and it is a cycle that happens once in 6 years. “While the State received excess rainfall in July, it had deficit rainfall in June and August.”
Mr. Siddaramaiah accused Tamil Nadu of utilising more water for its kuruvai crop this year. “Tamil Nadu is allocated 32 tmcft of water to meet the needs of 1.85 lakh acres. However, it has utilised about 60 tmcft of water and expanded the area of cultivation. Despite the problem we are facing, they are now seeking more water. There is no distress formula that has been framed either by the Supreme Court or the tribunal.”
A senior Minister, who attended the meeting, said that the State will not only ask for a distress formula, but will also urge the Supreme Court to reject Tamil Nadu’s appeal, that is coming up before the court. “In the absence of a distress formula, problems have arisen in distress years. Water can be shared based on the rainfall.”
He pointed out to the Supreme Court ruling asking for reduction in allocated share proportionately among the riparian States during distress year.