Further releases to be based on inflows into Kabini and Krishnarajasagar

The goodwill gesture extended by Karnataka to release 10,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till September 20 has come to an end and further releases are expected to be based purely on the inflows into the Kabini and the Krishnarajasagar reservoirs, given the differences that have cropped up after a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has called for an all-party meeting here on Friday to decide the next course of action.

As such, the leaders of all parties here have conveyed to the government that there being a serious drought in the Cauvery basin region, there is no question of releasing water, since farmers themselves will face a shortfall in the coming months, and the drinking water requirements of Bangalore city have to be met.

Following the failure of discussions at the CRA meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday, Karnataka is likely to file an interlocutory application before the Supreme Court expressing difficulties that the State is facing in releasing water further.

While Karnataka has so far impounded around 80 tmc feet of water in the four reservoirs — Krishnarajasagar, Hemavathi, Harangi and Kabini — across the Cauvery, the Stanley reservoir at Mettur is stated to have a live storage of over 45 tmc feet.

Karnataka Minister for Water Resources Basavaraj Bommai, who accompanied Mr. Shettar to the CRA meeting, told The Hindu: “We have done our best to provide relief to Tamil Nadu although our farmers themselves are suffering because of the drought. It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister arbitrarily announced at the end of the CRA meeting that Karnataka should release 9,000 cusecs of water continuously till October 15. Our dams do not have that kind of a live storage for us to oblige.”

The Karnataka delegation staged a walkout from the meeting. Sources close to the Chief Minister said the obligation to release 10,000 cusecs a day up to September 20 has been adhered to and “in all fairness, the distress in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu can be confirmed only through a field visit and not through any ad hoc decision. After the field visit, the CRA can deliberate once again before coming to any conclusion. In our view the decision of the Prime Minister is unfair.”

The sharing of waters of the Cauvery has been a source of conflict between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu mainly whenever the southwest monsoon fails.

The water level in the Krishnarajasagar reservoir in Mandya district on Wednesday was over 110 feet — nearly a half the reservoir’s capacity. The level in the Kabini dam was 2,275 feet against the full level of 2,284 feet and the combined release from both dams to Tamil Nadu was around 7,000 cusecs.

The total inflow into the Karnataka reservoirs up to Wednesday (during the current water year) was about 144 tmc as against 242 tmc in a normal year, representing a shortage of about 40 per cent. As of now, the live storage in the reservoirs of Karnataka is about 76.07 tmc.

More In: National | News | States | Karnataka