The CPI(M) leader says there is lack of political will to solve State’s irrigation woes, terms sections of Cauvery agitators politically motivated

Calling for a nuanced approach to the ongoing Cauvery water-sharing dispute, Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary G.V. Srirama Reddy has accused vested interests of hijacking the issue for petty political gain.

He was addressing a gathering of farmers and their leaders on Monday during the release of a documentary film on water scarcity by Lakshmipathi Kolar.

Mr. Reddy took exception to threats issued by certain leaders, who said that there would be a militant response if the Supreme Court doesn’t rescind its order to release water to Tamil Nadu. “I hope the leaders who made these statements realise that they are threatening the highest Constitutional authority in this country.”

He said the tragedy of the present crisis is that reason is being held to ransom by emotion.

“The fact of the matter is Mandya is far better irrigated than districts such as Chickballapur and Kolar, where there isn’t even enough water to drink,” he said.

But since the Cauvery issue is an emotive one, political leaders of all hues are jumping onto the bandwagon while nobody talks about the water crisis in Hyderabad-Karnataka or Central Karnataka.

While conceding that there are some genuine concerns in sharing water with Tamil Nadu, he said farmers in that State too are Indians. “Karnataka is not India and Mandya is not Karnataka,” he said, adding: “There are more serious water crises in Karnataka and only 45 per cent of farmers in Mandya are dependant of Cauvery water.”

Citing an example of political neglect, he said that there are 4,100 lakes in Kolar and Chickballapur. These were all built by the British. “Today, most of them are weed infested and badly need de-silting. Even when there is heavy rain these lakes don’t fill up. Unlike Mandya where the fight is for irrigation water, here it is a question of water for survival,” he said.

He also said that instead of reacting every time water is shared with Tamil Nadu, the State government should conserve Cauvery water in times of plenty.

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