Terming the Cauvery River Authority’s (CRA) directive to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu every day from September 21 to October 15 an “arbitrary and ad hoc” decision that would severely affect the drinking water supply and agricultural operations, Karnataka has filed a review petition before the Authority, seeking a reconsideration of its directive in view of the serious drought gripping the State.
The review petition, which also seeks that the directive be kept in abeyance till it is reconsidered, was filed before the CRA late on Thursday night, according to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar.
Mr. Shettar said Karnataka’s Cauvery basin needed 155 tmcft of water for taking care of the drinking water requirements as well as standing crops.
Only 76 tmcft was available presently from all the reservoirs in the basin. Implementation of the CRA directive would only increase the distress as that would lead to the State losing 20 tmcft.
Leaders of various political parties, who participated in a meeting of floor leaders of both Houses of the legislature on Friday, declared that they would stand by the decision of the State.
Exploring legal options
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Mr. Shettar said Karnataka was also exploring other legal options. “We have given details regarding water storage in all the reservoirs in the Cauvery basin to our legal team headed by senior counsel F. S. Nariman. In a day or two, we will be able to decide the appropriate legal option.”
The State’s arguments hinge upon two statements in the CRA directive – “As on September 15, 2012, the deficit rainfall was 21 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 18 per cent in Karnataka. The sowing coverage was only 74.70 per cent of its normal agricultural area in Karnataka and 33.33 per cent in Tamil Nadu.”
Terming both the statements “erroneous,” Karnataka has maintained that the CRA decision itself should be set aside as it is made on these statistics. It termed the basis of the directive “incorrect” as the distress situation was assessed with reference to rainfall instead of the normal practice of assessing by actual inflows into the river.
It pointed out that it had submitted before the Supreme Court that as on August 31, 2012, there was a deficit of 48.3 per cent in the total inflows into the Cauvery basin when compared with the average inflow of 38 years. It termed the argument that only 33 per cent of agricultural land was sown in Tamil Nadu misleading.
Referring to the ongoing protest by farmers of the Cauvery basin against release of water to Tamil Nadu, Mr. Shettar maintained in the petition that the “protests of farmers cannot be ignored by the responsible government.”
Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses Siddaramaiah and S. R. Patil and Janata Dal (S) floor leader in the Assembly H. D. Revanna were among those present at the meeting.