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CRA directs Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs

By Gargi Parsai

The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, with (from right) the Karnataka Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, the Kerala Chief Minister, A.K. Antony, the Union Minister of State for Water Resources, Bijoya Chakravarty, and the Tamil Nadu Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyyan, at the Cauvery River Authority meeting in New Delhi on Sunday. — Photo: S. Arneja

New Delhi Sept. 8. The Cauvery River Authority chaired by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, today directed Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs (0.8 tmcft) of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu "accounted on a weekly average basis for September and October''. The CRA also asked Tamil Nadu to, in turn, ensure proportionate releases to Pondicherry. The CRA's decision overrides the Supreme Court's verdict of last Monday asking Karnataka to release 1.25 tmcft water to Tamil Nadu everyday until the CRA met.

Announcing the decision after a 90-minute meeting attended by the Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry and the Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu, the Union Water Resources Minister, Arjun Charan Sethi, said there was "near consensus'' on the decision. Tamil Nadu had "ultimately agreed'' under protest. He said Tamil Nadu had projected its minimum requirement for September and October as 1.25 tmcft a day, whereas Karnataka had expressed its inability to release and ensure more than 8,000 cusecs inflow at Mettur. But keeping in view the inflows and storages in the four Karnataka reservoirs and in Mettur, as well as the requirements of the two States, it was decided that Karnataka should release 9,000 cusecs.

Reacting to the CRA's decision, the Karnataka Chief Minister, S.M. Krishna, said the mission for which he came to Delhi on Friday was achieved. "He thanked the Prime Minister for convening the CRA at such short notice before his trip to the U.S. and said that "this will strengthen the federal features of the constitutional set-up''.

He said this was a temporary phase for September and October. "The tribunal which is sitting on a day-to-day basis will finalise its final verdict. It is not a question of who won and who lost. Everything will depend on monsoon and monsoon will decide the pace of implementation of this resolve." Asked whether this pro rata sharing of distress would continue after this season, Mr Krishna said its continuity would depend on the drinking water and crop situation.

He thanked the two Chief Ministers who attended the meeting today along with him to complete the quorum.Asked if Tamil Nadu had agreed to the CRA's decision, Mr. Krishna quipped, "Tamil Nadu can speak for themselves.'' Earlier in his opening remarks, the Prime Minister urged the basin States to come out with a "practical and workable solution acceptable to all the basin States''.

Mr. Vajpayee said the Monitoring Committee met on Saturday but no final conclusion could be arrived at on a distress-sharing formula. Since the Supreme Court had directed that the CRA would take a final decision and since he would be away for more than a week, it was found necessary to call for this emergency meeting.

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