Even as there was a clamour at a meeting of farmers here for punitive action against Karnataka if it were to fail to comply with the directive of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) to release 9,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water to Tamil Nadu, they were unanimous that it is meagre to save the samba crop in the delta region.
They extended their support to the demand of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for release of two tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water from Karnataka till October 15.
At an emergency meeting on the Cauvery water issue convened by Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association (CDFWA) on Saturday, leaders from various agriculturists’ associations came down heavily on the “intransigent” attitude of Karnataka and for treating Tamil Nadu as “drainage”.
They wondered how the rights of the lower riparian State could be trampled upon defying all the international conventions.
“When even international river water disputes could be solved respecting the conventions of lower riparian rights, why is it that the tug of war between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is allowed to continue for so long?” one of them wondered.
Another contended that there was no specific law in India to settle the inter-State river water disputes. Besides, unlike the committee constituted by former Prime Minister I. K.Gujral, the current CRA has no powers. “It is just advisory in nature,” he said.
However, there was an overwhelming opinion that the CRA had proved how effective it could be.
It should be convened once a month and positively ahead of the onset of the south west monsoon so that it could study the water storage and crop area in both Karnatkaa and Tamil Nadu. It should apportion the water available to both States applying the distress formula.
Some farmers suggested that the bounty of the west-flowing rivers in Karnataka be harnessed to benefit both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as almost 2,000 tmcft from them runs off into the sea. Also there was a suggestion that alternative cropping pattern could be tried out in delta.
Many farmers demanded a 10-year ban on sand quarrying in the Cauvery, which has become rampant over the years.
There was also a demand for writing off of all the crop loans availed of by the farmers in the State and providing compensation for the kuruvai crop that they have lost so far or are likely to lose shortly if they fail to get water for samba.
“Even after that the nation will suffer a huge loss in terms of food grain production ,” they said.
Some of them deemed the “bandh” observed in Karnataka on Saturday as a “travesty of justice” because “it was observed not by the people who need water but by those who have water but unwilling to partake it”.
They also pleaded for organising a bandh in Tamil Nadu to demonstrate the sentiments of the farmers.
Another important facet of discussion revolved around linking of rivers and nationalisation of rivers as that alone could ensure a permanent solution to the vexed issue.
G.Kanagasabhai, president, and Mahadhanapuram V.Rajaram, working president of the CDFWA, spoke.