Cauvery monitoring committee fails to resolve stand-off between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu

Bangalore Crucial talks to evolve a consensus between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over sharing Cauvery River waters have failed, with up-stream Karnataka refusing to accept a decision of the Cauvery monitoring committee that it release 8.8 TMC of water from October 15 to October 31.

Karnataka told the committee today that it has no water to release to Tamil Nadu.

The Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) has on it officials from both the states and also from  Kerala and Puducherry and the Ministry of Water Resources. It is has to report on the issue to the Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA) headed by the Prime Minister, which had directed Karnataka on September 19 to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till October 15. Karnataka reluctantly began to do so on September 29, but stopped on Monday, October 8, prompting  Tamil Nadu to go to the Supreme Court.

Ahead of today's meeting, Power Minister Veerappa Moily, who is from Karnataka, urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to provide immediate relief to the state. "Depletion of water on the Karnataka side will further deteriorate the situation. It is but natural that farmers are very much agitated in view of the depleting water situation on account of the release (to Tamil Nadu)," Mr Moily said in a letter to Manmohan Singh on Wednesday.

Mr Moily also urged the Prime Minister to review the September 19 ruling. He is the second Central minister from Karnataka to formally write to the Prime Minister seeking that reviewr.  External Affairs Minister SM Krishna wrote last week to Mr Singh saying, "The entire state is waiting with bated breath to get immediate relief as otherwise it will spell disaster for the population in the Cauvery basin (on Karnataka side)."

From the other side of the border, M Karunanidhi, the chief of the Tamil Nadu-based DMK, too has written to the Prime Minister, asking for his intervention. With 18 Lok Sabha MPs, the DMK is the second-biggest member of the PM's coalition. Mr Karunanidhi has said that its flagrant violations of the water-sharing agreement mean that Article 356 should be invoked against BJP-ruled Karnataka and it should be brought under Central rule.

The Cauvery River originates in Karnataka and meanders its way over almost 800 km in Tamil Nadu; decades-old agreements mandate that its water has to be shared with Tamil Nadu. Karnataka has four dams on the river; Tamil Nadu has two.

The topography of the region means that Karnataka can control how much water is released downstream to Tamil Nadu.

Karnataka, which was releasing 9,000 cusecs daily to Tamil Nadu from September 29, stopped doing so late on Monday, October 8, prompting the neighbouring state to file a contempt of court petition in the Supreme Court.

Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, however, is confident that the state will convince the top court that it has not guilty of any contempt. He told reporters in Bangalore on Wednesday that the water release was stopped only after informing the Supreme Court on Monday that the state was in no position to continue it.

Karnataka has been arguing that is has been hit by the worst drought in 40 years and water in the reservoirs across the Cauvery are just enough to meet irrigation and drinking water needs till next June, when the four-month monsoon season starts.

(With inputs from Agencies)

Story First Published: October 11, 2012 17:05 IST

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