Opposition stages walkout on release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu

Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators, along with Bharatiya Janata Party MLA H.S. Shankaralinge Gowda, staged a walkout in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, opposing the recent release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar informed the Legislative Assembly that 2,000 cusecs of water had been released to Tamil Nadu from Saturday, complying with the Supreme Court’s order to release 2.44 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu. The decision was taken keeping in mind the State’s long-term interests, he said.

The decision was based on the advice of senior advocate Fali S. Nariman, appearing for the government in the Supreme Court. Mr. Shettar said the government functions within the framework of the Constitution and federal set up.

“It is not a voluntary decision of the government,” Mr. Shetter argued.

Minister for Water Resources Basavaraj Bommai said the advocates had advised the government to release water before filing a review petition, and that the petition would be filed soon.

‘A betrayal’

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah alleged that the government had betrayed the people of the State by releasing water to Tamil Nadu and demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation. Even though Tamil Nadu had sufficient water in the Mettur and Bhavani dams, the BJP had released water to remain in power, Mr. Siddaramaiah said.

Over 45 towns and cities, including Bangalore and Mysore, would face a severe drinking water crisis in March and April because of the water release. He demanded a change in the advocates’ teams so that the case could be represented effectively in the apex court.

“What is the necessity of holding an all-party meeting and receiving suggestions from us?” he said, referring to the meeting held last week where it was decided that water should not be released till the filing of a review petition.

Mr. Bommai said that as of Monday, the water storage in the Cauvery basin reservoirs stood at 13.2 tmcft, including 6.7 tmcft in the KRS, he said.

He pointed out that the Congress too had released water in February 2003 during the S.M. Krishna regime. The 1991 interim award of the tribunal was a “mortal blow to the State”. The subsequent orders of the SC were based on the interim award, he said.

However, the rejection of the Tamil Nadu government’s affidavit seeking release of 12 tmcft water “is a turning point which will lead to future solution to the dispute,” he said.

Dissatisfied with his reply, the entire Opposition staged a walkout in the Assembly.