Follow directive on release of Cauvery water to TN, panel tells Karnataka | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Follow directive on release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, panel tells Karnataka

By, New Delhi
Sep 30, 2023 08:37 AM IST

A top panel mandated to oversee sharing of water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu asked the former to follow directions issued earlier by a regulatory body.

A top panel mandated to oversee sharing of water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on Friday asked the former to follow directions issued earlier by a regulatory body to release water to its neighbour from the Cauvery basin, deepening a major discord between the two southern states, a person familiar with the matter said.

Kannada activists burn an effigy of Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin, in Karnataka’s Chikmagalur, on Friday. (PTI)
Kannada activists burn an effigy of Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin, in Karnataka’s Chikmagalur, on Friday. (PTI)

In a meeting held in Delhi to resolve a logjam that has sparked tensions in the two states, the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) upheld the regulatory committee’s directions to Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs [cubic feet per second] of water to Tamil Nadu from September 28 to October 15.

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Karnataka must follow a September 26 directive by the Cauvery Water Regulatory Committee (CWRC) to release the required water to Tamil Nadu, the authority ruled. The mandate of providing 3,000 cusecs water to Tamil Nadu for an 18-day period took effect on September 28, the day on which its earlier mandate to Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs for a 15-day period ended.

READ | Cauvery dispute: Row deepens as Karnataka asked to release 3000 cu water to TN

Karnataka, however, did not comply with the directions, citing severe water scarcity in the state. Reports in recent days, citing India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, have said that districts in the Cauvery catchment area have registered a rain deficit of at least 32%.

Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said the state will challenge Friday’s decision and move the Supreme Court over the issue. “We will submit a review petition, stating our inability to release water, to the Cauvery Water Management Authority tomorrow morning (Saturday), and we will approach the Supreme Court as well,” he said.

Farm organisations and pro-Kannada groups called a shutdown in Karnataka on Friday, halting normal life in Bengaluru, to protest against the directions to release water to Tamil Nadu.

The Cauvery interstate basin originates in Karnataka and flows through Tamil Nadu and Puducherry before flowing into the Bay of Bengal. The districts in the basin recorded 32% rain deficiency this year.

Being a lower-riparian state in the basin, Tamil Nadu relies on releases by Karnataka, particularly during the monsoon, to meet its needs. During summers, Tamil Nadu comes under a rain-shadow region.

At the meeting, representatives of the Karnataka government argued that the state was battling a water crisis due to widespread drought following a poor monsoon. “Karnataka said it was not in any position to comply with the directions because of water scarcity,” the person cited above said.

On September 14, after a Cabinet meeting the previous day, the Karnataka government had declared a drought in 195 talukas of the state, including nine in the vicinity of Bengaluru, Karnataka’s representatives argued, according to the person cited above. A taluk is a unit of revenue administration.

The river has been the source of more than a century of dispute between the southern states, leading to violent protests before. In 1991, the Supreme Court had issued directions to Karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu, leading to widespread clashes in both the states.

In the meeting on Friday, Karnataka also argued that releasing more water would create a “life and death situation” and lead to extensive damage to crops. Its representatives said the water-sharing mechanism between the two states had no “distress formula”, or a blueprint for water sharing during times of crisis.

The Cauvery authority, while stating that Karnataka must follow the directions to release the required water, rejected Tamil Nadu’s immediate demand that Karnataka should also simultaneously release a backlog of 12,000 cusecs of water.

CWMA chairman Saumitra Haldar told Karnataka that it needed to provide, as in previous years, water till October 15 only because both the states would then start receiving rains from the winter monsoon, the person quoted above said.

Earlier, the matter had reached the Supreme Court, which ordered Karnataka to provide Cauvery water of 12,000 cusecs to Tamil Nadu for 15 days from September 13.

According to data from the Central Water Commission, from September 1 to 21, Tamil Nadu received 40.76 tmc ft (thousand million cubic feet) water. Under existing arrangements, Tamil Nadu argued that it should get 112.11 tmc ft in a normal year. Even adjusting for a poor monsoon and rainfall deficit, Tamil Nadu should get at least 7.8 tmc ft more from Karnataka, representatives from the state argued before the Cauvery authority.

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