He appeals to Prime Minister to assess ground realities first

The former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda on Saturday reiterated his demand for an expert team to study the ground situation in the Cauvery basin of Karnataka.

Addressing presspersons, Mr. Gowda appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is also chairman of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA), to send a team to assess the ground realities. Mr. Gowda suggested that Karnataka should release 9,000 cusecs of water for three days as a goodwill gesture, till Mr. Singh sends a team of experts to study the availability of water in the reservoirs, and drinking and farming requirements of Karnataka.

He also appealed to the Mandya Zilla Raitha Hitarakshana Samiti and the farming community to cooperate in releasing water to Tamil Nadu. “Let us decide on the ways to compensate the shortage of 2.7 tmcft water the State faces because of the decision,” he said.

He said the Centre would be responsible for further repercussions if the CRA failed to send an expert team even after three days.

Recalling how he forced the then Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao to send an expert team when the apex court directed Karnataka to release 30 tmcft of water, Mr. Gowda said he deliberated over the matter and released 5 tmcft, despite opposition. “Finally, based on the team’s report, Karnataka was asked to release only 11 tmcft of water,” he said.

Speaking of the century-old Cauvery dispute, Mr. Gowda said: “While it is a question for the future generation of Karnataka, for Tamil Nadu it is a tool for political survival.” On every occasion, Tamil Nadu politicians bring pressure on the Union government and succeed because of the “political clout they have”, he said.

Speaking about how the discussion of the issue in Parliament was obstructed by members from Tamil Nadu, he burst into tears and it took him a minute to continue his tirade against Tamil Nadu politicians. Mr. Gowda noted that never did tribunals submit interim reports in the history of inter-State and international river water disputes, but the Cauvery Tribunal was forced to present an interim report.

Storage dam

His plan for construction of a storage dam between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, when he was the Prime Minister, and using the stored water during times of distress had been rejected by Tamil Nadu for political reasons, he said. “The government [Tamil Nadu] is not prepared to construct a new dam, as the existing Mullaperiyar dam is in a dangerous condition,” he concluded.

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