THE KARNATAKA legislature on Monday passed a new resolution clearing the release of Cauvery water to farm land in the Cauvery basin in Karnataka. This means that the Karnataka government will also indirectly follow the Supreme Court’s directive to release 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for three days.
Despite the Supreme Court order, the Congress government in Karnataka had deferred the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu. On September 23, the state legislature passed a resolution stating that the limited water in the Cauvery reservoirs in Karnataka could only be used for drinking purposes in the state.
In the light of marginal improvement in the quantity of water in the four reservoirs in the Cauvery river basin in Karnataka — from 27.60 TMC feet on September 23 to 34.13 TMC feet on Monday — the legislature passed a modified resolution on Monday, clearing the release of water for agriculture in the state.
“The legislature has observed the demand of farmers in the Cauvery basin for release of water for their standing crop. In this context, the resolution passed on September 23 reserving the water in the Cauvery reservoirs for drinking alone is modified and an appropriate decision can be taken, keeping in view the interest of farmers and the interest of the state,’’ said the new resolution.
The new resolution follows a Supreme Court warning last week that Karnataka would have to face the “wrath of the law” if it disobeys court orders.
“There has been an inflow of 7,000 cusecs into the dams in the last 10 days. There is a 6.5 TMC feet increase in storage. There is now a flow of 1,200 cusecs into Tamil Nadu, if we release water for farms in Karnataka this will go up by 3,000 cusecs and seepage will ensure additional flow of 3,000 cusecs. The Supreme Court order to release 6,000 cusecs per day will be met, we have to respect the order,’’ said Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah while putting the new resolution to vote.
“We need about 23.3 TMC feet of water to meet our drinking water needs till June next year. We will ensure that this amount of water is reserved in the reservoirs,” said Siddaramaiah.
The earlier resolution passed by the state legislature stated that due to an acute distress in terms of water availability “it is imperative that the government ensures that no water from present storage be drawn except for meeting drinking water requirement of the villages and towns in the Cauvery basin and for the entire city of Bengaluru”.
Siddaramaiah also rejected appeals by Opposition leaders to replace the state’s Supreme Court counsel for water disputes, Fali S Nariman.
“His competence and integrity cannot be doubted. We need him to argue Karnataka’s case when the main petition on the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal’s order comes up for hearing on October 18. He has been our lawyer for 32 years and knows all about the dispute,” Siddaramaiah said.
Earlier, during the discussion on the resolution, the Speaker ordered that adverse remarks made by a BJP leader
against the senior counsel must be expunged.
Centre says no to Cauvery board
The Centre on Monday opposed in the Supreme Court a direction to constitute the Cauvery Management Board to examine the dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Seeking a modification of the directive, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra that it was constitutionally impermissible to issue such an order to the government.
Citing Article 262 and Inter-State River Disputes Act, 1956, the AG contended that the Supreme Court should not entertain any matter relating to an inter-state water dispute after a tribunal has been set up through a parliamentary legislation and orders are being passed by this tribunal.