Panel asks Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu

The Cauvery Water Management Authority will hold its meeting on August 29 wherein it would take a call on the recommendation, says chairman of Cauvery Water Regulation Committee  

Updated - August 29, 2023 11:40 am IST

Published - August 28, 2023 10:32 pm IST - Chennai:

A view of the River Cauvery. Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) on August 28 decided to recommend to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) that Karnataka release 5,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for the next 15 days.  

A view of the River Cauvery. Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) on August 28 decided to recommend to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) that Karnataka release 5,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for the next 15 days.   | Photo Credit: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

The Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) on August 28 decided to recommend to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) that Karnataka release 5,000 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu for the next 15 days.

The CWMA would hold its meeting on August 29 wherein it would take a call on the recommendation, Vineet Gupta, chairman of the CWRC, told The Hindu on August 28. While Tamil Nadu sought 24,000 cusecs to be given, Karnataka had indicated it would be able to supply 3,000 cusecs.  

Held in a hybrid manner, the meeting, which lasted nearly two and a half hours, saw “detailed deliberations” and took into account the forecast of the Meteorological department for the next fortnight, Mr. Gupta added. There was a “heated discussion” too, a representative of the Tamil Nadu government said.

Reacting to the development, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D.K. Shivakumar, also Minister for Water Resources, said his State had appealed against the CWRC recommendation. “The meeting [of the CWMA] is scheduled for Tuesday. I am not going to talk till the final verdict comes,” Mr. Shivakumar told presspersons in Mysuru. 

Ground realities

Karnataka had informed the committee about the ground realities in the State. “They [Tamil Nadu] asked for a lot more. We will protect the interest of the State as well as its farmers,” the Deputy Chief Minister added. 

According to a note released by his office, Tamil Nadu initially insisted on going by distress factor of 22%, duly considering rainfall deficit as the criteria. The CWRC Chairman emphasised that rainfall cannot be correlated to the resultant runoff. Supplementing this, Karnataka’s representative too emphasised that inflow should be the function of distress. Karnataka had also pressed upon the CWRC as to what consideration was given to the State for having augmented the storage in its reservoirs by releasing water for irrigation whereas Tamil Nadu had “depleted the storage by over-utilisation“ by releasing water to irrigation, the note stated.  

Asked for comment, the Tamil Nadu government’s official says that the State will give its formal and detailed response at the CWMA meeting. He contends that the diminution of flows to Karnataka reservoirs had been “exacerbated by unauthorised utilisation” either through pumping of water to tanks or for minor irrigation. During summer, the neighbouring State had indulged in “unauthorised diversion” of water through lift irrigation, he claims. 

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told reporters in Mysuru that he would discuss the issue with Mr. Shivakumar, Irrigation department Officials and the legal team.

Contending that Karnataka had to save its standing crops and meet its drinking water requirements, Mr. Siddaramaiah said the CWRC’s recommendation to release 5,000 cusecs of water per day for next 15 days and the actual availability of the water would be discussed with the Irrigation department.

He said Karnataka had to release 86 tmc feet of water during August in a “normal year”. So far, the State had released 30 tmc feet in the month of August in view of the scarcity of rain and poor storage levels in the reservoirs, he noted, while pointing out that “the distress formula has not yet been defined”.

(With inputs from the Karnataka Bureau)

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