Mandya farmer groups to file counter-plea against CWMA order to release Cauvery water to TN

On the advice of the state legal team, the Karnataka government is set to file petition before the Supreme Court only after the visit of CWMA to Cauvery River basin.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Sep 01, 2023 | 10:46 PMUpdatedSep 01, 2023 | 10:46 PM

Karnataka Tamil Nadu Cauvery Water Dispute

Outrage from farmers’ groups in Karnataka over the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu is escalating, with associations considering legal remedies.

After the Supreme Court postponed the hearing on the Cauvery River water sharing issue, compelling the Karnataka government to continue releasing water to Tamil Nadu, dismayed farmer associations of the district Mandya have decided to file a counter-petition before the apex court against the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) order.

Several farmer associations, including the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Melukote MLA Darshan Puttannaiah, held a meeting in Mandya on the evening of Friday,1 September, to decide on further course of action after the apex court postponed the hearing to 6 September.

With the Karnataka government announcing that it would continue to release water to Tamil Nadu and comply with the CWMA order, the farmers’ associations have unanimously decided to file a petition before the apex court against the authority’s direction to release 5,000 cusecs every day till 12 September.

Considering the advice of the state legal team, Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar, who holds the water resources portfolio, asserted: “The legal team has advised the state government to file a counter-petition before the Supreme Court only after the technical team of CWMA visit Cauvery basin.”

He also reiterated that the government was committed to protecting the interests of the farmers and people of the state.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government continues to release over 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu.

Explainer: Unraveling the over-a-century-old Cauvery river dispute

‘Protest until justice is served’

In opposition to the CWMA order, farmer associations from Mandya district have unanimously decided to file a counter-petition before the Supreme Court and also to continue the agitation.

This unanimous decision was reached during a meeting that lasted over one hour. The meeting included members from various farmer associations, local leaders, and MLA Darshan Puttannaiah, who gathered to discuss future measures after the Supreme Court postponed the hearing to 6 September.

The farmers also expressed disappointment over the state government’s decision to continue the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.

MLA Puttannaiah told South First: “As the Supreme Court postponed the hearing on Wednesday, the farmer associations decided to file a petition against the CWMA order to release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu.”

He added: “We have also decided to continue the protest until justice is served. The government must work towards protecting the interest of farmers. The situation is grim in the Cauvery basin as the monsoon has completely failed this year.”

Puttannaiah also said that the farmers would continue the protest in front of the Krishnaraja Sagara (KRS) dam.

Ever since the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) recommended that the Karnataka government release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu, the farmers have launched indefinite strikes against the CWRC, CWMA and state government.

Also read: SC seeks report on Karnataka water release compliance

‘Mekedatu is the only solution’

After the Supreme Court postponed the hearing on the Cauvery River, Shivakumar told reporters in Bengaluru: “I held a detailed meeting with the state legal team and the advocate general. They have advised the government to file a petition before the apex court only after the CWMA visits the Cauvery River basin.”

“We have requested the technical team of the CWMA to visit the reservoirs in the Cauvery River basin to understand the ground reality. We have insisted that they visit both the states to know the reality. The intention is to present facts before the authority before filing the petition,” he added.

“Tamil Nadu requested the release of 24,000 cusecs of water. In the current situation, our officials have argued that it is impossible to release the demanded water,” he added.

“We had suggested releasing 3,000 cusecs of water, but the CWMA directed the release 5,000 cusecs of water. We respect their decision, and we have requested its officials to visit us and study the situation,” he said.

“They should understand the actual circumstances. We don’t have water for drinking purposes. Therefore, Tamil Nadu should show some flexibility. They are aware of the water scarcity issue in Karnataka,” urged the deputy chief minister.

Shivakumar also pointed out: “In the previous year, they used more water than allocated, which is around 80 percent. We do not question the reasons for their water usage. During difficult times, they could have used water judiciously. In such a crisis, the Mekedatu project is the only solution. We will present our case before the authorities. This project benefits Tamil Nadu more than Karnataka. If there was Mekedatu in place, we could have stored water.”

Related: TN, Karnataka upset over order to release 5k cusecs of Cauvery water

Respecting law is important: DyCM

Responding to the Opposition and farmers’ continuing protests in Mandya, Shivakumar said that respecting the law was important.

On Opposition parties demanding not to release water to Tamil Nadu, he said: “Doing so is not possible. Whatever we do or say, we should go through the court. We should present the actual facts before the court, consult with legal experts, and first submit the matter to the authority, and then approach the Supreme Court. In the 23rd authority meeting, we have presented that Tamil Nadu is using excess Cauvery water. We were hoping for more rainfall, but it has not happened.”

Shivakumar added: “We do not question their decisions in politics. They are aware of the facts. Former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai was the water resources minister for five years. We called them and held discussions. We won’t reveal what we discussed in the meeting. We are working for the state’s welfare. We will ask for a date for an all-party meeting soon.”

He continued: “The crucial factor is how much water is flowing on the date the authority has allocated. Due to recent rainfall in Bengaluru, some of that water has also gone through the Arkavati river.”

Asked about problems providing water for drinking in Bengaluru in the future, he replied, “We depend on Cauvery water in many districts, including Bengaluru and Mysuru. We are safeguarding it. We have provided some suggestions to the farmers for their welfare. We are committed to the state’s welfare. Respecting the law is equally important.”