Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Thursday mooted a three-point formula for consideration to his Tamil Nadu counterpart Jayalalithaa, which, according to the State government and irrigation experts here, would provide a long-lasting solution to the vexed issue of sharing Cauvery waters among the riparian States, primarily Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
It was the first meeting between the Chief Ministers of the two States in nearly 15 years, and Mr. Shettar and Ms. Jayalalithaa exchanged pleasantries and bouquets before beginning their discussions. As was evident, the two Chief Ministers had come prepared for the talks.
Sources in the State government told The Hindu that Ms. Jayalalithaa heard the suggestions put across by Mr. Shettar, but did not react. Her focus was primarily on the immediate release of water to save the ‘samba’ crop in Tamil Nadu.
The meeting, scheduled to last at least an hour, ended much earlier with Ms. Jayalalithaa making a quick exit. On behalf of the Karnataka government it was clarified that “it was not a walkout and Mr. Basavaraj Bommai (Minister for Water Resources) was at hand to see her off.”
After the meeting, Mr. Shettar said, “We should finalise a long-lasting solution away from the courts. The two States should come together and build reservoirs that can impound water when the river is in spate or when there are surplus flows. The sharing of waters of the Cauvery has remained a complicated problem, especially during the distress years, and we have to work out an amicable solution.”
“We must make use of this opportunity to see how both the States can find ways and means to overcome distress situations (which comes about once in four or five years). Building reservoirs in the reach below Shivanasamudram and Mettur can be a step forward in the interests of both the States. Such reservoirs can be used for storage in surplus years, regulation, power generation and other purposes. An expert committee can be set up with representatives of both States and the Central Water Commission to look into such a proposal and evolve an action plan, which can be implemented in a given time frame,” he said.
A committee of experts comprising farmers should also be constituted to implement disciplined agricultural practices in both States to prevent wastage of water. The plan could also be placed before the Union government for financial support. Further “a mediation committee of experts can be formed with representatives of both States to evolve a distress sharing formula”, he added.