CRA will have to meet again for any review/stay of order, says Bansal

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday ruled out a stay or review of the decision of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) directing Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of water every day to Tamil Nadu till October 20, saying there was no mechanism for him to do so at the request of a party.

The Prime Minister chairs the CRA, which has as members Chief Ministers of the basin States, including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

Responding to an appeal from Congress’ Union Ministers and Bharatiya Janata Party MPs from Karnataka, the Prime Minister said a Central team had visited both the States and, based on its findings and the ground situation, the official-level Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) was meeting next week. If they were unable to resolve the issue, another CRA may be convened.

Union Ministers from Karnataka S.M. Krishna, M. Mallikarjun Kharge and K.H. Muniyappa and 16 BJP MPs from the State, led by M. Venkaiah Naidu, met the Prime Minister separately on Monday seeking a stay or review of the CRA’s September 19 decision. They said the State was in no position to release further water to Tamil Nadu.

“Both the groups sought a stay. The Prime Minister told them that it was not permissible as there is no mechanism under the CRA to change its award. It is not the decision of the Prime Minister but of the CRA. The CRA will have to meet again for any such thing,” Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told journalists.

The Prime Minister expressed concern at the inadequate southwest monsoon in both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and emphasised that the Centre’s response to the situation was one that served the interests of both the States, he said.

Awaiting CMC meet

It was at Karnataka’s request that the Central team visited both the States to study the crop and water situation. It would report its findings to the CMC, which would meet here on October 11. In addition, CMC Chairman and Water Resources Secretary D.V. Singh too had visited both the States to assess their water requirements. The chief secretaries of the four States were members of the CMC and, hopefully, they would arrive at some quantum of water that Karnataka should release after October 15.

Mr. Bansal said Karnataka released 1,21,000 cusecs of 1,44,000 cusecs water to Tamil Nadu between September 20 and October 5. It was required to release 9,000 cusecs a day till October 15. It agreed in the Supreme Court to release 10,000 cusecs till September 20. On October 4, Karnataka reservoirs had, on an average, 65 tmcft of water and the canal system had another 60 tmcft, while Tamil Nadu’s Mettur dam had an average 34 tmcft.

There were conflicting claims by both the States. “Karnataka says all their standing crops are threatened. Tamil Nadu says that first crop has failed and for the next, samba. they will complete planting 13 lakh hectares by November 15. If no water is available, the seedlings will die.”

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