Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday directed Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu at Biligundlu (the border) daily from September 21 till October 15. Both the States said the ruling was “unacceptable’’.
Chairing the seventh meeting of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) to resolve the issue of sharing of Cauvery waters, the Prime Minister initially appealed to the States to reach an amicable and mutually acceptable solution on pro rata sharing of distress this season, when the monsoon has been deficient in the both the States, but there was no consensus.
For a while the meeting was adjourned mid-way for all parties to confabulate, but still no agreement could be reached.
After hearing both sides, Dr. Singh ruled that Karnataka release 9,000 cusecs of water each day for 25 days from September to October 15 after the State refused to accept Tamil Nadu’s demand for two thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) water for 24 days or 1 tmcft daily for 30 days.
Expressing her “total disappointment’’ with the verdict, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa told journalists later that she had no option but to knock at the doors of the Supreme Court to seek justice to sustain the samba crop. “Karnataka was not agreeable to our demands and said that it would not release even a drop of water to Tamil Nadu in these circumstances. The bare minimum water sought by Tamil Nadu was also not accepted,’’ she said.
Emerging from the over two hour-long meeting, Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Bansal said, “As the chair of the CRA, the Prime Minister ruled that Karnataka will continue to release 10,000 cusecs (about .86 tmcft) per day till September 20 (as directed by the Supreme Court) after which till October 15, it will release 9,000 cusecs (about 0.7 tmcft). If need be, the matter can be brought to the CRA.’’
He said it is the Centre’s expectation and hope that the States would implement the decision. “They wanted a CRA meeting. They came to the meeting and under the Business Rules if consensus eludes, then the chair has to pronounce a verdict.’’
Mr. Bansal said the Prime Minister pronounced his decision after taking into account the need to save the crops in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and the drinking water needs of Bangalore and Chennai. “In a cooperative federal structure it is hoped that both the States will accept the decision.’’
Asked if the Centre proposed to send teams to both the States for ground assessment, he said there was no need to do so as the Centre had “full reports’’ and also the reservoirs were being monitored by the Central Water Commission.
Reacting to Tamil Nadu’s decision to approach the Supreme Court, Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid said since there was no consensus a decision had to be taken and it was expected that the States would accept it.