All-party meeting on inter-State water disputes in Feb. first week, says Bommai

The State Government has decided to convene an all-party meeting in the first week of February in Bengaluru to discuss and decide on the future course of action to safeguard Karnataka’s interests in inter-State water sharing disputes, especially in the light of the Tamil Nadu Government’s move to utilise excess water in the Cauvery basin and its opposition to the State’s balancing reservoir project at Mekedatu.

The announcement was made by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday after he held elaborate consultations through a videoconference with members of the legal team representing the State in the Supreme Court, the Advocate-General, and senior officials of the Law and Water Resources departments. Mr. Bommai discussed pending cases in the Supreme Court and court/tribunal orders related to irrigation projects in the Krishna and the Cauvery basins and the Mahadayi project.

Mr. Bommai said he would hold another round of videoconference with the State’s legal team and irrigation experts at the end of January to obtain information about preparations made by the team to fight the State’s cases in the Supreme Court.

The all-party meeting involving floor leaders of political parties in both the Houses of the legislature would be convened in the first week of February to arrive at a consensus on steps to be taken to fight the State’s interests in water disputes. Senior advocates and senior Ministers would also participate in the meeting, the Chief Minister said.

“We have faced several challenges in the past with regard to inter-State water disputes. We will fight both legally and politically to safeguard the State’s interests in water sharing,” Mr. Bommai said.

The State Government had already filed a petition in the Supreme Court opposing Tamil Nadu’s proposed inter-linking project, which seeks to draw surplus water from the Cauvery basin. The Government would also oppose Tamil Nadu’s plan to take up the second phase of the Hogenakkal combined drinking water project, Mr. Bommai said.

The Government would urge the Central Water Commission not to clear Tamil Nadu’s proposed water projects in the Cauvery basin, the Chief Minister said.

A few days ago, Mr. Bommai had said irrigation projects in the State were bogged down by inter-State river water disputes and asked the Centre to “revisit the Interstate River Water Dispute Act since the law is creating more disputes than resolving them”.

Execution of many of the State’s irrigation projects have been delayed due to inter-State river water disputes with Maharashtra, Goa, and Andhra Pradesh, the Chief Minister said and urged the Centre to revisit the Act.

Advocate-General Prbhuling Navadgi, Mohan V. Katarki and Shyam Divan, senior advocates representing the State in the Supreme Court, Law Minister J.C. Madhuswamy, Minister for Major and Minor Irrigation Govind M. Karjol, Chief Secretary P. Ravi Kumar were among those who participated in the meeting on Saturday.

KPCC working president and seven-time MLA Ramalinga Reddy urged the State Government to lead an all-party delegation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get all pending clearances for irrigation and drinking water projects in the State.

Mr. Reddy told reporters that the BJP Government should put pressure on the Central Government to get environment and other clearances required for implementing the Mekedatu project which would enable the State to provide drinking water to more than two crore people in and around Bengaluru.

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Printable version | May 19, 2022 3:38:58 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/all-party-meeting-on-inter-state-water-disputes-in-feb-first-week-says-bommai/article38309811.ece