Bengaluru: Karnataka home minister G. Parameshwara said the state was disappointed with the Supreme Court verdict, which asked the state to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu until 27 September, on Tuesday.
“Time and again we are treated like this. How can this be justice?,” he said on Tuesday evening. “We don’t know details. We had opposed 3,000 cusecs of water release, instead of taking note, the Supreme Court doubled it (the quantum of water to be released to Tamil Nadu). How can this be?”
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has called a meeting of senior leaders in the state Wednesday to discuss the issue and plan the next course of action, after analyzing the fine print copy of the order.
A Bengaluru-based political analyst said Karnataka could try getting another lawyer or changing its bench, but there was no guarantee that this would help.
“The Supreme Court is coming across very negative in Karnataka and this could affect credibility of the court itself,” that person added.
“This is a decision against farmers and the state of Karnataka,” said Kabini Raitha Hitarakshana Samiti president Kurubur Shanthakumar, who represents many farmers in Karnataka. “We are asking for drinking water and they are asking water for samba crops How is this justice? Farmers will gather in front of MG statue, opposite Mysuru court. (We) will put ropes around our necks to depict that the decision is a death sentence to us,” he said.
Meanwhile, across the border, various stakeholders in Tamil Nadu chose to focus more on the proposed long-term solution to the decades-long problem.
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“Samba and Kuruvai are the crucial irrigation seasons for us. So, if Cauvery Management Board is constituted by the Centre within four weeks, as directed by the Supreme Court, it will solve most of our problems in long run,” said Arumugam E, a Trichy-based farmer.
Politicians in Tamil Nadu urged for swift execution of the Supreme Court order and made a plea to Karnataka to protect Tamils in the state from any potential retaliatory violence.
“The Karnataka government should ensure safety and security of the Tamil people and avoid a violent situation, like the one that happened a week ago,” G.K. Vasan, leader of Tamil Maanila Congress, told reporters. “I request the central government to act swiftly and set up the Cauvery Management Board, as per SC order.”
Some others such as Tamilisai Soundararajan, president of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit, said the order was a step in the right direction.
“Since the case was pending in the Supreme Court, the Centre was not in a position to set up the Cauvery Management Board. With this Supreme Court order, a barrier is set aside, giving an opportunity for the Centre to act,” Soundararajan said.
Many other independent observers also praised the apex court’s attempt to find a permanent solution to the dispute.
“This has been long pending. For the past decade or so, this issue comes up whenever there is a poor rainfall and therefore a water crisis. Then there will be a good rainfall the subsequent years and the entire issue gets washes away,” said Dr N Satyamoorthy of Observer Research Foundation, a think-tank based in Chennai. “I think, the Central government and Supreme Court should look at a solution that is enforceable without straining the constitutional fabric, during a good period.”
“Right now, the Supreme Court had fixed a particular quantum of water to be given to Tamil Nadu. I personally feel that both the states should agree on a fixed percentage instead,” Satyamoorthy added.
Terming the order a historic one, Anbumani Ramadoss, leader of Pattali Makkal Katchi party in Tamil Nadu, said, “Though the 6,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from Karnataka till 27 September is not sufficient, the direction by the Supreme Court to constitute the Cauvery Management Board within four weeks is a significant step. The Central government should not delay. They should act swiftly in accordance with the Supreme Court’s order.”
(Reporting by Sharan Poovanna and Preeti Zachariah in Bengaluru, and Dharani Thangavelu in Chennai)