Release Cauvery water as per availability, board tells Karnataka

G Parameshwara, farmers, Cauvery - The Federal
Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara met protesting farmers in Mandya and assured them to resolve the water crisis.

The Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) on Tuesday (June 25) ordered Karnataka to release water to the lower riparian state of Tamil Nadu “if” the inflow of water increases in its reservoirs.

The order comes as water crisis looms large in both the states due to a weak monsoon and poor inflow to reservoirs.

Considering the deficient rainfall between June 1 and 20 in the Cauvery catchment area, the Authority which met on June 25 in Delhi, ordered Karnataka to adhere to the final order of the Tribunal (as modified by the SC) subject to inflow being normal.

In its previous meeting, the CWMA had asked Karnataka to release 9.19 tmcft of water as the June quota to Tamil Nadu. Besides, it is supposed to release 31.24 tmcft of water for July.

However, with weak south-west monsoon, Karnataka could not release the water fully. It just released 1.72 tmcft of water up to June 24.

Representatives from Tamil Nadu had pleaded with the Authority to direct Karnataka to release the complete water due for the month.

Also read: If the BJP has a water strategy to woo TN, now is the time to unroll it in Cauvery

Until June 24, Karnataka witnessed 30% deficit rainfall. In the Malnad region, which is crucial for the Cauvery catchment area, the rainfall deficit stood at 45% of the normal. As against 267.9 mm of rainfall, Malnad region received only 148 mm.

The reservoirs in the Cauvery basin have remained low. It had lesser water than the average of previous 10 years and corresponding previous year. Also, about 65 per cent of the 3,611 minor irrigation tanks in the state were dry while only two per cent had a storage capacity of more than 50%, as per the report of Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre.

Also read: Last year flood in Cauvery, this year drought. Why complain? 

According to reports, in reservoirs in the Cauvery basin—Krishnaraja Sagara (KRS), Harangi, Kabini and Hemavathi—the cumulative rainfall received was only 1.59 tmcft between June 1 and 23. It was about 60 tmcft during the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Karnataka farmers under the banner of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (farmers’ association) continued their indefinite strike for the fifth day demanding release of water to the Manyda sugarcane belt.

Welcoming the CWMA decision, Darshan Puttanaiah, KRRS leader from Mandya, told The Federal the association’s current fight is against the Karnataka government.

“We want the government to release 2.5 tmcft of water to our farmers. We want them to release water so that we can save 60 lakh tonnes of sugarcane crops in the state. We will continue our indefinite strike until then,” Puttanaiah said.

Deputy Chief Minister D Parameshwara who met the protesting farmers, assured them of resolving the crisis soon.

Meanwhile, Tamilaga Cauvery Vivasayigal Sangam general secretary PR Pandian told The Federal that the Authority’s order worried them as he alleged that Karnataka released its water to tanks and kept its reservoirs dry purposefully.

“It is unfortunate that the Authority could not see the reality. If such an order is passed, we may lose all our hope and respect for the Board,” Pandian added.

In a related move, the Tamil Nadu government has demanded that the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) be headquartered in Bengaluru.

Tamil Nadu did not release Cauvery water from the Mettur dam on June 12 for farmers in the delta region for the cultivation of ‘kuruvai’, the summer short-term crop due to low water levels. Paddy farmers are predominantly dependent on Cauvery water.

The AIADMK government on Friday (June 21) asked the Centre to take control of the Cauvery Water Management Authority and ensure distribution of the prescribed amount of river water to Tamil Nadu.