Led by Shettar, delegation met Manmohan

As the Union Water Resource Ministry is likely to notify the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) at any moment, the Karnataka Chief Minister, Jagadish Shettar, led an all-party delegation in New Delhi on Monday, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and asked him not to notify it as the CWDT had “over-estimated the crop water requirement of Tamil Nadu.”

However Dr. Singh was non-committal and he just listened to the views expressed by the Karnataka delegation against the notification of the final award, informed sources said. He told the delegates that he would study the memorandum, look into it, and get back to Karnataka.

The delegation, which also included Deputy Chief Minister R. Ashoka, Union Minister for Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan (from Karnataka), Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly M. Siddaramaiah (Congress), Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai and JD (S) leader H.D. Revanna, sought Dr. Singh’s immediate intervention to stop the notification as the State was facing severe drought and there was scarcity for even drinking water in major cities including Bangalore.

CWDT

“The most important development to be brought to your kind notice is CWDT has over-estimated the crop water requirement of TN based on the self serving affidavits of TN overlooking Karnataka’s objections,” a memorandum submitted by Mr. Shettar to the PM said.

The latest assessment made by the team of Central Water Commission (CWC) under the direction of Supreme Court “has exposed the incorrect claims of Tamil Nadu (on water requirement). Therefore, I feel that the very basis of allocation of water to TN needs to be revisited”.

The memorandum alleged that as against Karnataka’s claim of 465 tmc feet (of Cauvery water), only 270 tmc feet had been allocated by CWDT (for a normal year). “While the entire ‘atchkat’ (ayacut) of TN, both within the agreement of 1924 and outside the agreement is protected by the final order of CWDT, however for Karnataka this has not been done”.

In spite of the findings of the various bodies, including UNDP as to the availability of abundant quantity of ground water in Cauvery delta and in spite of Tamil Nadu’s own admission of availability 47 tmc ft of ground water, CWDT had given a finding that 20 tmc feet of ground water was available for use in conjunction with surface water. “However, even this 20 tmc feet of ground water has not been accounted while stipulating releases of 192 tmc feet of water at the inter-State border – Biligundlu”.

In the final order of CWDT, the prescription of monthly accounting of the quota on proportionate sharing formula under distress situation without assessing the ground realities had been of great concern. “Therefore the focus has to be on addressing the situation during the distress years.

Even the Cauvery River Authority has not yet finalized the distress sharing formula.

Unless this is addressed, the dispute would defy a permanent solution”.

Others who were present in the delegation include Karnataka Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Kumar, Minister V.Somanna, H.N. Anath kumar (BJP), Basavaraj Horatti and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council S.R. Patil.

The Supreme Court, on February 4, had pulled up the Centre for “flouting the law” for the last five years and asked it to notify CWDT’s final award on or before February 20 and said the union government had no discretion or choice but to do so.

The Centre constituted CWDT on June 2, 1990 and it gave an interim award on June 25, 1991. The CWDT gave its final award involving Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Puducherry on February 5, 2007. The CWDT then headed by – Justice N.P. Singh (Chairman) and members N.S. Rao and Sudhir Narain – gave the award in an unanimous decision.