The bilateral talks between the Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in Bangalore on Thursday, to work out a formula to share the available waters in the reservoirs across the Cauvery, as suggested by the Supreme Court, failed with both States sticking to the positions adopted before the apex court and the Cauvery River Authority.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who flew down to Bangalore accompanied by Minister for Public Works K.V. Ramalingam and Chief Secretary Devendranath Sarangi, apparently walked out of the meeting in under 45 minutes. “There is no point in continuing with the discussions when Karnataka says it will not release a single drop of water. We need at least 30 tmcft of water for another 15 days to save the standing crops,” she told reporters.
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said, “Karnataka is in the grip of a serious water shortage in the Cauvery basin. While the present storage is around 37 tmcft, the drinking water requirement is 20 tmcft. Another 10 tmcft has to be released into the river (2.5 tmcft a month) between February and May for ecological reasons. We are left with only 7 tmcft for irrigation. I suggested that we reassess the situation a fortnight later and, if need be, the next round of talks could be held in Chennai.”
Following the failure of talks, both the States have decided to move the Supreme Court.
The next round of hearing in an Interlocutory Application (IA) filed by the Government of Tamil Nadu is on Friday, in which the lower riparian State has demanded that the shortfall of 52.5 tmcft in water releases during the southwest monsoon period be made good.
Ms. Jayalalithaa said the situation in the Cauvery delta was grim, and the present storage in the Stanley reservoir in Mettur was only 6.34 tmcft (apart from 5 tmcft of dead storage and another 5 tmcft required for drinking water), which would suffice for only six days. The standing ‘samba’ crop is under serious threat.
Minister for Water Resources Basavaraj Bommai, who participated in the discussions, said, “While the monsoon has ended here, it is imperative for us to judiciously use the available water. On the contrary, the northeast monsoon is still active in Tamil Nadu, and the State can hope to receive good inflows. There is distress in both the States, calling for a fresh assessment at the end of the northeast monsoon.”
Among the others who participated in the discussions were Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashok, who is also Minister for Home, Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs S. Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath, Principal Secretary (Water Resources) D. Sathyamurthy and Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Pradeep Kharola. Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Rammohan Rao was also present along with several irrigation advisers to the Tamil Nadu government.