Urges Supreme Court to modify order on supply to Tamil Nadu

The Karnataka government on Thursday moved the Supreme Court, seeking a stay/modification of its September 28 order, which directed the State to release 9,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu daily till October 15 as per the orders of the Cauvery River Authority headed by the Prime Minister.

In its application, Karnataka pointed out that it had complied with the order by releasing 99,601 cusecs (from September 20 to October 3). From September 12 till October 3, it had released 1, 93,600 cusecs. Karnataka suggested that Tamil Nadu’s total requirement from October 1, 2012 till January 31, 2013 (for the duration of the samba paddy crop) would be 123 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet), at 1 tmcft per day.

“The water that should be available in Tamil Nadu during this period would be around 120 tmcft which is as follows: Present storage in the Mettur dam (37 tmcft); expected release at Biligundlu (38 tmcft); Biligundlu-Mettur contribution (.05 tmcft) and contribution from rainfall during the northeast monsoon (40 tmcft).

The application said: “Karnataka places this suggestion that about 38 tmcft is likely to be the release available between October 1, 2012 and January 31, 2013 as an amicable solution to the complex issue of sharing water in this extreme distress year of 2012-13. The expected release of 38 tmcft at Biligundlu is based on the data of 2003-04, which was the worst year in the last four decades which is comparable to this year.”

Tracing the sequence of events, the State said that at the September 19 CRA meeting, “ignoring the submissions made by the Chief Minister on the precarious condition in which Karnataka is placed, the CRA Chairman passed his decision, directing Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs daily from September 20 to October 15, 2012 by relying on the rainfall data and sown area data which are neither relevant nor correct.”

Though a review petition was filed before the CRA to keep the order in abeyance, ït was not done. Considering the prayer made in the application, the Secretary of the CRA has proposed to visit to Karnataka on October 5 and a meeting of the Cauvery Monitoring Committee is scheduled for October 8.”

Protests hit normal life

Karnataka said: “Consequent to the release of water from the reservoirs in Karnataka, farmers in the districts of Mysore, Mandya and Hassan have taken to gherao and even threatened to seize the dam [Krishnaraja Sagar]. Strong perceptions of the farmers are that any release from the reservoir would affect their standing crops which are their only livelihood. The widespread agitation protesting against water release has badly affected normal life in the cities and towns viz., Mysore, Mandya, etc, but all possible steps to ensure law and order [so far not unsuccessful] have been and are being taken. The busiest Bangalore-Mysore highway has been blocked by the agitators. Schools and colleges have closed. The agitation is being kept under control by the government by deploying adequate security forces. However, the reaction of the people cannot be ignored as it has all the potential to get out of hand, despite the best efforts to keep it under control.”

The application said: “Karnataka’s requirements are about 140 tmcft for irrigation of standing kharif and perennial crops. But the storage as on October 2 is 67 tmcft and the expected inflow should be 40 tmcft [if the average of 38 years — 1974-75 to 2011-12 — is considered with 40 per cent reduction due to distress], taking the total available water in Karnataka to 107 tmcft.”

Giving an overview of the drought situation especially in the Cauvery basin, Karnataka said it faced an unprecedented drought this year owing to total failure of the southwest monsoon up to August-end. The government had to declare all 49 taluks in the Cauvery basin drought affected by the third week of August. “Due to poor monsoon, the demand for drinking water from surface sources has increased.”

Karnataka, while seeking a modification of the September 28 order, urged the court that its suggestion for release of 38 tmcft till January 31, 2013 be accepted.

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