Cauvery dispute: Karnataka to release water to farmers, and Tamil Nadu

New Karnataka legislature resolution did not explicitly mention Tami Nadu but implied that some of the released water – at least 3,000 cusecs a day—will go across the border


Of the 18.85 lakh areas of cultivable land in the Cauvery basin area, only 6.15 lakh acres have been cultivated this year. Photo: AFP
Of the 18.85 lakh areas of cultivable land in the Cauvery basin area, only 6.15 lakh acres have been cultivated this year. Photo: AFP

Bengaluru: The Karnataka legislature unanimously passed a resolution on Monday to release water for irrigation to farmers in the state, some of which will flow to Tamil Nadu.

Though the new resolution did not explicitly mention the neighbouring state, it implied that some of the released water – at least 3,000 cusecs a day—will go across the border.

The moves comes after the country’s apex court criticised the Karnataka government for not following its 30 September order, which required the state to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu per day from 1-6 October.

“Have you released some water? There can be a part compliance of our order. We can understand your difficulty,” the top court said on Monday.

The court also heard Karnataka’s plea for modification of the 30 September order. The case will be heard next on Tuesday.

In a carefully worded resolution, Karnataka state law minister T.B.Jayachandra proposed to release water to its canals to help the farmers in the state, but did not specifically mention that water from the dams would also be released to Tamil Nadu.

To be sure, at least 1200-1300 cusecs of water flow out of the dams even when the gates are closed due to seepage, and when the gates are opened to release water to the canals, the flow of water goes up to at least 3,000 cusecs, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah explained. Water released by Karnataka is measured in the amount of water realised at Biligundlu reservoir on the border.

“We are committed to ensuring drinking water to regions around Cauvery Basin and will remain bound by the 23 September resolution,” he said while adding that the region needs 23.30 tmcft of water only for drinking. Water levels in the four dams that serve the Cauvery basin has gone up from 27.60 tmcft on 23 September to 34.13 tmcft on 3 October, Siddaramaiah said.

The additional water, around 6.5 tmcft, would be released to help save farmers’ crops in the basin area. Of the 18.85 lakh areas of cultivable land in the Cauvery basin area, only 6.15 lakh acres have been cultivated this year. Of this, 1.88 lakh acres of crops around the Hemavathy basin has been lost due to lack of water, leaving only 4.26 lakh acres, he said.

Reeling from its second drought and acute water shortage, Karnataka had said that the 27 and 30 September court orders to release water to Tamil Nadu were “unimplementable”.

The nearly 50% deficient rainfall had forced the state government to issue an advisory to farmers not to go water intensive crops.

Siddaramaiah also said that the main SLP (special leave petition) passed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal is coming up for hearing on 18 October and that it was very important for lawyer Fali.S.Nariman to continue as the state’s counsel.

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