Following the Supreme Court’s refusal to intervene in the Cauvery water sharing dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the State is now looking at the next window of opportunity to present its case.
Karnataka has been left with no choice but to release 5,000 cusecs of water daily as stipulated by the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) right now, top government sources indicated.
Meeting on Sept. 27
The government is likely to wait till the next CWMA meeting proceedings to move further. “We will go by the current CWMA decision, but will appeal against it in the next authority’s meeting scheduled for September 27,” a senior government source told The Hindu. The State will continue to argue against the release of quantum of water as stipulated by the authority, the source said.
Another source, who was part of the meetings in Delhi on Thursday, acknowledged that the Supreme Court order came as an “unexpected development” considering the magnitude of the distress in the Cauvery basin districts in Karnataka. Agriculture Minister N. Cheluvarayaswamy told presspersons in Delhi that the matter is also likely to come up for discussion in the Cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday.
Meanwhile, the BJP and the JD(S) leaders have urged the government to go for a review of Thursday’s order of the Supreme Court. However, this is unlikely to happen. “While there is little time left to file the review petition, there is feeling that the government also cannot approach the apex court again without releasing some quantum of water,” said a source.
On Thursday, former Chief Minister and JD(S) leader H.D. Kumaraswamy urged the State to approach the Supreme Court with a review petition quickly. Alleging that the government “erred at every step”, he said: “It delayed approaching the Supreme Court, and advice given by Opposition leaders were not considered.”
Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Basavaraj Bommai told reporters that the Supreme Court should have considered ground realities before issuing its order. “It is necessary to convince the court of the ground realities. It is also not fair only to calculate the storage in Karnataka reservoirs,” he said.
Meeting with Union Minister
Earlier in the day, a delegation led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat to impress upon him the ground realities in Karnataka, and the State’s inability to release water since there is not enough storage to maintain needs of drinking water, industrial requirement, besides saving standing crops.
Mr. Siddaramaiah told presspersons that the water requirement forecast is 106 tmcft and the availability is 52 tmcft. He also highlighted the protests by farmers in the Cauvery basin against the release of water to Tamil Nadu. “We are expecting the Centre to intervene in the matter and have urged for a distress formula to be devised.” He said that about 4,500 cusecs was being released currently.
Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar, who holds the Water Resources portfolio, told presspersons in Delhi before the Supreme Court proceedings on Thursday morning: “To respect their sentiments and orders of the authority, we are releasing about 4,000-odd cusecs of water. However, the inflow (into reservoirs) is deteriorating daily.” The government is committed to safeguarding the interest of the State, he added.