In a setback to Karnataka, the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) has recommended that the state release 3,000 cusecs of water every day to Tamil Nadu from 28 September to 15 October.
The decision to make the recommendation was taken at a meeting held in Delhi, on Tuesday, 26 September.
Responding to the recommendation, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who also holds the water resources portfolio, asserted that the state government would appeal against this order before the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA).
Opposing the Congress regime’s decision to comply with the Supreme Court order, various farmers’ associations — backed by Opposition parties — called for a bandh in Bengaluru to protest against the Karnataka government, the CWRC and the CWMA, on Tuesday.
The farmers’ associations demanded that the state government immediately stop the release of water to the neighbouring state and call for a special Assembly session to discuss the escalating tensions over the Cauvery water situation between the two states.
They also demanded that the government immediately issue an official order on the construction of the Mekedatu balancing reservoir and allocate funds for the project.
Meanwhile, experts condemned the CWRC’s recommendation and urged the government to appeal against the order.
Despite representatives of Karnataka presenting facts about the drought situation in the Cauvery river basin, the CWRC asked the state to ensure the release of 3,000 cusecs of water every day to Tamil Nadu for a fortnight, starting from 28 September.
Complying with the Supreme Court’s 21 September order, the Karnataka government is already releasing around 3,000-3,500 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu.
In the meeting, Karnataka officials highlighted the shortfall in inflows to four reservoirs of the Cauvery basin, and stated that the water storage stood at 53.04 percent.
“The Karnataka government has declared 161 talukas in the state as severely drought hit and 34 talukas as moderately affected. Of the drought-hit taluks, 32 severely-hit and 15 moderately-affected talukas fall within the Cauvery river basin,” submitted the representatives of Karnataka.
“Karnataka is not in a position to release any water from its reservoirs or contribute any flows from its reservoirs to the flows to be maintained at the interstate border of Biligundlu,” the state said, announcing its position before the CWRC committee.
According to the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), “The Krishna Raja Sagara dam has recorded water storage of 20.14 tmcft, against the maximum capacity of 49.45 tmcft. The inflow stands at 7,134 cusecs and outflow at 6,201 cusecs. The Harangi, Hemavati, and Kabini reservoirs have water storage of 84, 49, and 70 percent, respectively.”
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu urged Karnataka to reduce its irrigation supply based on the distress proportion and release the shortfall quantity immediately, as well as further flows as per the distress proportion.
‘Will present facts before the CWMA’
After the meeting, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar told reporters that the state would appeal against the CWRC’s recommendations before the CWMA in the upcoming meeting.
“There is another meeting to be held on the matter in Delhi. Our officials will be attending and we will present facts before the committee. We don’t have sufficient water to release and everyone should pray to God for good rains,” stated Shivakumar.
He told reporters, “The Mekedatu balancing reservoir is the only solution to resolve this dispute. In the recent apex court proceedings, deliberations were made about Mekedatu.”
He added, “The court has also pulled up Tamil Nadu for objecting to this 66 tmcft capacity balancing reservoir project in Karnataka, despite the assurance of supply of an allocated quantity of 177.52 tmcft.”
Shivakumar also said: “The dialogue has been opened on the matter. We will present a report before both the committees. We will ensure that the Mekedatu project begins at the earliest. This will help KRS, Harangi, and Kabini reservoirs and Bengaluru for drinking water.”
On the Bengaluru bandh, he said, “Everyone has the right to protest. I would like to congratulate all the associations and parties for peacefully holding protests. I cannot tell anyone not to criticise me or the government. Even Opposition parties have to survive. We will not make any efforts to suppress the voice of the opposition.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah urged the Union government to intervene in the matter, noting that a delegation had been waiting for a month for a chance to meet him.
ತಮಿಳುನಾಡಿಗೆ ಮುಂದಿನ ಹದಿನೆಂಟು ದಿನಗಳ ಕಾಲ 3,000 ಕ್ಯೂಸೆಕ್ಸ್ ನೀರು ಹರಿಸಬೇಕೆಂಬ ಕಾವೇರಿ ನೀರು ನಿಯಂತ್ರಣ ಸಮಿತಿಯ ಆದೇಶ ಆಘಾತಕಾರಿಯಾದುದು. ಈ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕಾನೂನು ತಂಡದ ಜೊತೆ ಚರ್ಚಿಸಿ ಮುಂದಿನ ನಿರ್ಧಾರ ಕೈಗೊಳ್ಳಲಿದ್ದೇವೆ.
ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ಎದುರಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವ ಮಳೆ ಕೊರತೆಯ ಅಂಕಿ-ಅಂಶ, ಜಲಾಶಯಗಳ ನೀರಿನ ಸಂಗ್ರಹ ಮತ್ತು ರೈತರ ಬೆಳೆಗೆ ಮತ್ತು…
— CM of Karnataka (@CMofKarnataka) September 26, 2023
Commenting on the CWRC’s recommendations, Karnataka’s former secretary of the Minor Irrigation Department and irrigation expert Captain S Raja Rao called the recommendations “unfair”.
Rao told South First: “It is a question of improper assessment by the CWRC. It should not only see the prescribed amount of water to be released to Tamil Nadu but also consider the distress situation in Karnataka.”
He added: “In two reservoirs of the Cauvery river basin in Tamil Nadu, there is unutilised water of 26 tmcft and another 10 tmcft of groundwater, which has also remained unexploited. Another monsoon is coming up in the neighbouring state. In these times, the farmers do not need water as they are getting it through natural resources.”
Opposing the recommendations, Rao said, “The CWRC and the CMWA must ask Tamil Nadu to justify their demand for water when they have one more monsoon due and have sufficient water available in two reservoirs. Karnataka is reeling under severe drought. It is not fair on the part of the CWRC to make such recommendations.”
Stating that the prime minister must intervene in the matter, he said, “The prime minister’s role is significant. All the four states of the Cauvery basin must appeal for the prime minister’s intervention, with assurance of abiding by the outcome of the meeting. The administration cannot violate the apex court orders. In the past two such occasions, Karnataka’s chief ministers have faced setbacks. It is not easy to violate these orders.”
Also read: Karnataka to comply with SC order on Cauvery
TN steadily receives water
Acknowledging the receipt of water from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu Water Resources Minister S Duraimurugan said that, as of Tuesday, the state had received 7,000 cusecs of water. “We are steadily receiving water from the Cauvery and hope to realise the full quantum,” he told reporters.
Initially, Karnataka provided 2,500 cusecs of water per day and the quantum was increased to 3,000 cusecs per day.
As per the Supreme Court order, Tamil Nadu is yet to receive 11,000 cusecs of water, which Duraimurugan said was likely to be provided by Wednesday.
As per the direction of the CWRC that was upheld by the Supreme Court, Karnataka was to release 5,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu for 15 days from 13 September. “This means that the 15-day period ends on Wednesday. Despite protests in Bengaluru, the Karnataka government is releasing water,” he noted.
At the CRWC meeting, Tamil Nadu insisted upon the release of 12,000 cusecs of water, which the committee rejected. Shivakumar expressed satisfaction over the CWRC rejecting Tamil Nadu’s request.
“Normally, about 2,000 cusecs flow (towards TN). Another 1,000 cusecs we will have to release to make it 3,000 cusecs,” said Shivakumar.
Speaking to reporters, Shivakumar said, “The rejection of Tamil Nadu’s application has made me happy. I congratulate the people who have taken part in the agitations, cutting across party lines.”