Another Cauvery River Authority may be convened if issue is unresolved, says Union Minister
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday ruled out a stay or a review of the decision of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) directing Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu till October 20, saying there was no mechanism for him to do so, on 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 that a Central team had visited both the States, and based on their 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.
Team meets Manmohan
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 a review of the CRA decision taken on September 19.
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, who was present at the meetings, later told journalists here.
Mr. Bansal said the Prime Minister expressed concern about the inadequate southwest monsoon in both the States and emphasised that the Centre’s response to the situation is one that serves the interests of both the States.
Awaiting CMC meet
“It was on the asking of Karnataka that a Central team visited Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to study the crop and water situation. It will report its findings to the CMC, which will 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 are members of the CMC and hopefully they will arrive at some quantum of water that Karnataka should release after October 15.”
According to the Minister, Karnataka released 1,21,000 cusecs of 1,44,000 cusecs water to Tamil Nadu between September 20 and October 5.
It is required to release 9,000 cusecs per day till October 15.
The State had 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 water.
Mr. Bansal said 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 — crop they will complete planting 13 lakh hectares by November 15. If no water is available, the seedlings will die.”
The issue is now the setting in of the northeast monsoon — normally around October 25, after which the (distress) situation is expected to ease, the Minister added.