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‘Government’s response to Cauvery issue inept’

Special Correspondent
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Leaders plan to meet Prime Minister to urge him to review order

Critical view:Senior Congress leaders S.M. Krishna, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, G. Parameshwara, Siddaramaiah and Ambareesh at an interactive meeting with irrigation experts on the Cauvery issue in Bangalore on Saturday.— Photo: K. GOPINATHAN
Critical view:Senior Congress leaders S.M. Krishna, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, G. Parameshwara, Siddaramaiah and Ambareesh at an interactive meeting with irrigation experts on the Cauvery issue in Bangalore on Saturday.— Photo: K. GOPINATHAN

The Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee on Saturday blamed the State government for its inept handling of the Cauvery issue before both the Supreme Court and the Cauvery River Authority (CRA), resulting in the continued release of water to Tamil Nadu.

The interactive meeting with irrigation experts was attended by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, Union Labour and Employment Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah, KPCC president G. Parameshwara, the former Advocates-General B.V. Acharya and A.N. Jayaram, former officials who served in the Irrigation Departments and writers.

‘Be firm’

Briefing presspersons, Dr. Parameshwara and Mr. Siddaramaiah urged the State government to be firm in not releasing water to Tamil Nadu and to request the Supreme Court on October 19 to advise the neighbouring State to share the distress. Their argument was that refusal to release water does not amount to contempt, as the government has already kept the court informed.

They said Karnataka had told the CRA that 74 per cent sowing had been completed and 143 taluks were reeling under drought, whereas Tamil Nadu had completed 33 per cent sowing and it wasn’t facing drought. When the Central Monitoring Committee asked Karnataka to release 37.2 tmcft till January next year, the government voluntarily agreed to release 38 tmcft to it, which was a tactical error.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, instead of staging a protest walk out at the CRA meeting, should have asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to reduce the quantum of water to be released. Kabini, which should irrigate standing crop in one lakh acres, had only 1 tmcft in the reservoir, they said, and claimed it released 14,000 to 15,000 cusecs on many days.

Congress leaders said the State government had failed to convince the court and the CRA that Tamil Nadu had 45 tmcft of groundwater, while Karnataka did not enjoy such an advantage. Even the Cauvery River Water Disputes Tribunal had recorded that it had 20 tmcft of groundwater in the delta. Terming the Bharatiya Janata Party’s allegation that Dr. Singh had failed to protect the interest of farmers in Karnataka, the Congress leaders reminded them of the decision of Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in 2003. Mr. Vajpayee asked Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs when its reservoirs had only 42 tmcft of water. But, now it had 70 tmcft. They were politicising the issue to cover up their errors, they said.

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