Karnataka refuses to release water to TN, to petition CWRC, SC again
After emergency meeting, state government decides to not abide by CWRC recommendation to release 5,000 cusecs daily to Tamil Nadu for next 15 days
After holding a “special emergency meeting” on the issue of releasing water to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday (September 13) said the state cannot release the Cauvery water to the neighbouring state.
The Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) on Tuesday (September 12) had asked Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water every day for the next 15 days to Tamil Nadu. The government will once again file a petition before the CWRC, expressing its inability to release Cauvery water.
The chief minister, who held a “special emergency meeting” on Wednesday (September 13) following the CWRC recommendation, said the government will consult its legal team regarding releasing water and take a decision. It will also once again file a petition in the Supreme Court explaining the factual situation on the ground, he added.
Consensus against CWRC recommendation
“Let’s see what they will do. Based on that we will once again file a petition in the Apex Court and we will try to inform the court of the factual situation on the ground,” Siddaramaiah said. Speaking to reporters after the meeting in Bengaluru, he said, “… we will consult the legal team whether to release 5,000 cusec per day or not. Deputy Chief Minister (DK) Shivakumar is going to Delhi to discuss this with the legal team and also regarding filing a petition. Keeping all this in mind, we will make a decision afterwards.”
Other than Shivakumar, who is also the minister in-charge of Water Resources, ministers of the Cauvery basin region, former chief ministers of all parties, senior ministers of the state cabinet, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members were invited to participate in the emergency meeting.
However, BS Yediyurappa and Basavaraj Bommai of the BJP and HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S) did not attend the meeting citing prior commitments. MPs such as BJP's Pratap Simha, PC Mohan, Shivkumar Udasi, and Sumalatha Ambareesh (Independent) participated in the meeting.
Noting that the meeting was called following the CWRC's recommendation to release water, the chief minister said whether the Cauvery river or any other inter-state disputes, all parties have taken a unanimous stand so far, and have not indulged in politics on the issues of land, water, language and state's borders.
Deficit rains make it impossible to share water
He said he has explained the legal implications at the meeting, amid demands from various quarters not to release water.
Pointing out that the CWRC was a recommendatory body and has only made a recommendation, Siddaramaiah said the state is going to appeal to them stating that Karnataka is not in a position to release water as there is no (adequate) water for crops and for drinking purposes.
He said he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking time to lead an all-party delegation, but there has been no response so far. “I will once again write another letter to the PM explaining to him about the factual position on ground. If he gives time, we will go and meet him.” MPs have also said that they too will exert pressure on the Centre, the chief minister said.
Observing that the Parliament session is starting from September 18, he said the government is contemplating convening a meeting of MPs and central ministers from Karnataka there during the session.
“On the whole, we want to apprise about our situation to the whole country, Supreme Court, CWRC and Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA). It is not our intention not to release water, but the situation is such that there is no water… we want people and all concerned understand this,” he said. Representatives of all the parties who attended the meeting have agreed to this, he added.
CWMA recommendation not pragmatic
The matter is going to come up before the CWMA in a couple of days and Shivakumar on Tuesday (September 12) said that Karnataka will vehemently put forward its stand before it.
The CWMA had earlier directed Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs water daily to Tamil Nadu for 15 days from August 29, based on the recommendation of the CWRC.
Averring that Karnataka has explained the factual ground situation in both states and its inability to release water, to CWRC, Siddaramaiah in response to a question on if he would speak to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on the issue, asked, “What's benefit speaking to him?” However, he said, he will discuss the suggestion with the legal team.
Pointing out that the state faced a huge rainfall deficit in August,
No distress formula on water sharing
Siddaramaiah said this led to shortage of water in reservoirs because of which the state is not in a position to release water as per the orders of the top court, which had ordered release of 177.25 TMC water to Tamil Nadu in a normal year. ”As there is no water in our reservoirs this year, we have till September 11 only released 37.7 TMC water, while we had to actually release more than 99 TMC by then. To save our standing crops, we are now not able to release water fully," he said.
“We need 70 TMC water for crops, 33 TMC for drinking water, 3 TMC for industry. So, we need 106 TMC water. But, we only have 53 TMC from four reservoirs in Cauvery basin – KRS, Kabini, Hemavati and Harangi – so it is not enough and that is why I said, we are not in a position to release water to Tamil Nadu,” he added.
Shivakumar on his part said the distress formula on water sharing that is to be followed during the distress year is not in place yet.
Tamil Nadu had recently approached the Supreme Court with a plea to direct Karnataka to release the Cauvery water for the standing crops. According to sources, the case may come up before the top court next week.
(With agency inputs)