Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has ruled out the possibility of releasing water to Tamil Nadu as the water-level in all the four reservoirs across the Cauvery is below the minimum. There is not enough water in the Harangi, Kabini, Hemavathy and Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoirs.

The water crisis has become serious and the government may struggle to provide water to Bangalore in the coming months, the Chief Minister said.

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that he was not against releasing water to Tamil Nadu, but it was not possible to do so now.

When there was a serious drinking water crisis in the State how could the State honour the award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal to release 1.2 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water to Tamil Nadu during the first 20 days of June? he asked.

He said that he had opposed the formation of the Cauvery Management Board saying that it was not needed. He said that Karnataka would apprise the tribunal of the water-level in the reservoirs and express its inability to release water to Tamil Nadu this month.

He hoped that Tamil Nadu would understand the practical problems Karnataka was facing and would desist from insisting that Karnataka release water now. The situation may improve in the coming days as the signs of the southwest monsoon reviving were bright, he said and added that if there was plenty of rainfall and if there was good inflow into the reservoirs, then “we may consider Tamil Nadu’s request for water”.

Referring to the distribution of rice at Re. 1 a kg to people living below the poverty line, the Chief Minister said that over 11 lakh families have either one or two members each. So it is not ideal to provide them 30 kg of rice a month, he said and defended bringing in the unit system for distribution of rice.

He noted that there had been shortfall of over one lakh tonnes of rice for distribution among the poor and said that the government was making efforts to bring rice from Chhattisgarh.

To a question whether he was in favour of banning mining activities completely in the State, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that the State government would take a decision based on the Supreme Court’s directions, the empowered committee’s recommendations and also the Lokayukta’s suggestions. He said that illegal mining had completely stopped.