TAMIL NADU

Ponnaiyan blames Karnataka for not opening Mettur canal

NAMAKKAL Nov. 24. The Mettur canal will be opened only when the Karnataka Government releases adequate quantum of water in the Cauvery, said the Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan, talking to presspersons here today.

The Karnataka Government was defying all authorities, such as the Cavuery Waters Dispute Tribunal, Cauvery River Authority and the Supreme Court by not releasing Tamil Nadu's share.

Making a veiled reference to the proposal of the Mettur canal ayacutdars to give whiplashes to two leaders who campaigned for him during Assembly election, Mr. Ponnaiyan said ``they were not genuine farmers, but Congressmen.''

The Minister noted that at present the water discharge from the Mettur dam was meant for the samba crop raised on 10-lakh acres in the delta region. Even if the rainfall was normal, it would require 70 tmcft in the Mettur reservoir to meet delta requirements. But as of now, the reservoir had only 25 tmcft.

Mr. Ponnaiyan was hopeful of positive developments in the CRA meeting scheduled for November 29. The Krishna Government is responsible for the crop loss worth Rs. 3,000 crores in the delta region, he said.

There was a clause in the 1924 agreement on sharing of Cauvery water, which stipulated that whenever Karnataka desired to expand the cultivable area, it can do so after obtaining prior permission from the Central Water Commission and written approval from Tamil Nadu. But Karanataka had failed to abide by the clause and went ahead increasing the area, Mr. Ponnaiyan said.

No merger of districts

Later laying the foundation stone for a Rs. 50-lakh Namakkal district panchayat office here, Mr. Ponnaiyan, scotched rumours that Namakkal district would be merged with its parent district, Salem.

He alleged that certain persons hostile towards the State Government were spreading such rumours to create problems for the Government. The Namakkal Collector, D. Rajendran, said the District Panchayat Office would be constructed on the Collectorate premises. This would enable better coordination between the district administration and the District Panchayat Office.