New Delhi: Reacting to the Supreme Court's warning on Cauvery river water sharing, Karnataka on Thursday said it was not in a position to release water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu. "Even if we want to release we don't have water. We have shortage," a Karnataka minister said.
- "Even if we want to release, we don't have water:" Karnataka minister
- Top court said Karnataka will "face consequences" if order was not obeyed
- Top court also rebuked centre for asking for more time to act on dispute
Asking Karnataka to release four TMC (thousand million cubic feet) of water to Tamil Nadu for May, the Supreme Court on Thursday warned the state to "be ready to release Cauvery water or face the consequences".
"There is a total of nine tmc water in all the four reservoirs coming under the Cauvery basin. That 9 TMC water is not enough for our drinking needs and crops. We have shortage," Water Resources Minister MB Patil said.
In a video message shared with reporters he said: "In this circumstance we cannot obey today's Supreme Court's order, as we don't have water. We will inform the Supreme Court about availability of water currently and our needs."
The top court had also rebuked the centre for asking for more time to act on Cauvery river sharing on grounds that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ministers were busy with the May 12 Karnataka polls.
Asking for 10 more days till the next hearing, the central government told the court on Thursday that "the PM and ministers are busy in Karnataka polls and can't approve the scheme for releasing water to Tamil Nadu, as directed."
The court had directed the centre to inform it by next Tuesday what steps were taken to frame the scheme for monitoring the release of water to Tamil Nadu.
"You are supposed to frame the scheme," Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra told the centre's lawyer KK Venugopal sternly.
The Attorney General replied that the draft for the scheme was "pending with the cabinet" as the "PM and ministers are in Karnataka."
He also said Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, wanted ministers to be involved in the scheme instead of experts. "We are not bothered about the polls. The scheme should have been framed by now. States have no role in this," replied the Chief Justice.
Tamil Nadu accused the centre of "politicizing the issue" and worrying more about the elections in Karnataka. "Centre doesn't want to frame the scheme now. This is the end of cooperative federal politics. What do we tell the people of Tamil Nadu?" said the state.
Earlier this month, the centre was reprimanded by the Supreme Court for ignoring its February order for a regulatory body that would monitor the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu by Karnataka.
The judges suggested that the centre was acting in guile. "The centre knows what the scheme means," the judge said.
(With inputs from agencies)