With the “extreme unrest” in Karnataka over release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah Friday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to call forthwith “on a few hours notice” a meeting of chief ministers of the two states to end the impasse.
As the Cauvery row hotted up with the state observing a 12-hour bandh today, Siddaramaiah dashed off a missive to Modi saying that the “unrest”, if continued, would have a serious impact on the state’s economy and, also, the IT economy, which brings enormous revenue and foreign exchange to the country.
“By this communication, I earnestly request you not only as Prime Minister, but as Head of the entire Federal system, to call a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the States (forthwith on a few hours notice) to resolve the impasse,” Siddaramaiah said in the letter released to the media here.
He pointed to a precedent of December 1995, where under similar circumstances of deficit flows, the Supreme Court had requested the Prime Minister to resolve the issue. “The Supreme Court by order dated 28 December, 1995 requested the Prime Minister to resolve the issue of implementation of its order, which was then duly done to the satisfaction of all parties,” he said.
Complying with the apex court’s order, Karnataka government has been releasing 15,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu since Tuesday, triggering a wave of protests particularly in the Cauvery basin districts with Mandya being the epicentre of the stir. While maintaining that the release was “inevitable”, Karnataka government has said it would seek modification of the apex court’s September five order to spare water for 10 days because of the difficulties in implementing it given that the live storage in four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin now was 46.7 TMCFT against their capacity of 104 TMCFT. The present live storage is 45 per cent against the live storage of 104 TMCFT in the Krishnaraja Sagar, Harangi, Hemavathi and Kabini reservoirs, the government has said.
Siddaramaiah, in his letter, has invited the Prime Minister’s “immediate attention to the stark facts already in the public arena about extreme unrest in the Cauvery basin, especially in Bengaluru…” against the court’s interim order on release of water. He said the daily release of 15,000 cusecs of Cauvery water at the inter state border, Biligundulu, which, if continued, “would completely deprive the drinking water not only to the residents of Bangalore City but also to farmers of Cauvery basin and water for the only crop they grow. Siddaramaiah said “the present storage in the Mettur reservoir and the North-east rainfall received in Tamil Nadu would be more than sufficient to meet the requirement of water for the Samba rice crop just being or still to be sown by the farmers in the state.”
The Supreme Court’s direction was based on Tamil Nadu’s plea, seeking a direction to Karnataka to release 50.52 TMCFT of Cauvery water to save 40,000 acres of samba crops this season. Siddaramaih pointed out that at an all-party meeting held on Tuesday last, the views of the political parties including BJP in the state, was that the order of the Supreme Court ought not to be implemented.
“However, as constitutional Chief Executive of the State, I have taken it upon myself to obey the orders of the Supreme Court and the water is being released as per the order which has created more unrest and disquiet in the state.” “Awaiting your favourable response urgently, by telephone, fax or email,” said Siddaramaiah, as he faced the increasing Cauvery heat.