New Delhi/Bengaluru: The Cauvery supervisory committee on Monday ordered the release of 3,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu from 21 to 30 September, sparking another round of protests in Mandya, Athibele, on the outskirts of Bengaluru, and other parts of Karnataka.
The Supreme Court on 5 September asked Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to approach the panel, headed by Shashi Shekhar, secretary-water resources department. Following this, the apex court asked Karnataka to release 15,000 cusecs of water per day for a period of 10 days to Tamil Nadu, which was revised on 12 September to 12,000 cusecs per day until 20 September. Both verdicts led to widespread violence.
After the 12 September verdict, Karnataka repeatedly asserted it could not release more water under current circumstances of acute water shortage, Mint reported.
To be sure, the Cauvery supervisory committee’s verdict will hold good only if the Supreme Court ratifies the decision on Tuesday.
“There was no consensus," Shekhar told reporters after the meeting. “As chairman of the supervisory committee, in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court, if there is no consensus, taking into the interest of all parties—inflow positions, rainfall picture, drinking water needs in Karnataka and that of summer crops in Tamil Nadu—it was decided that Karnataka would be directed to release 3,000 cusecs per day from 21 to 30 September."
During the meeting, Karnataka cited severe drinking water shortage and groundwater decline in the state, owing to six consecutive monsoon failures, for being opposed to the idea of releasing water to Tamil Nadu.
Shekhar said that the next meeting will be in October.
Meanwhile, P. Rama Mohana Rao, the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu, refuted Karnataka’s version and requested for release of water.
“Both states have not agreed to our proposition," Shekhar said, adding that the larger problem at hand was the lack of credible data.
“Lack of credible data is a problem every year. Data presented by one state is opposed by the other. We proposed to have real time data collection mechanism—on rainfall, inflows, reservoir levels, outflows—which will seamlessly travel to all four states (including Puducherry and Kerala) as well as the supervisory committee. Then disputes won’t arise in future," Shekhar said.
Shekhar also suggested a change in the very nature of the committee’s meetings by which it will start meeting once a month from next February, unlike now when it meets only when there is a dispute.
Chief minister Siddaramaiah said he has been trying to contact Prime Minister Narendra Modi but as many as two Union ministers and state Bharatiya Janata Party president B.S. Yeddyurappa have ruled out Modi’s intervention, The Hindu reported on Sunday.
P.R. Pandian, coordinator of the Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Unions, said it is disappointed with the recommendation of the Cauvery supervisory committee. “This release of water is not going to help us raise our samba (rice) crops. We are waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision tomorrow (Tuesday). Hope that at least will give some relief," Pandian said, adding, “A committee should be sent to check the levels of water in Karnataka before hastily deciding on anything."
Vaiko, leader of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party in Tamil Nadu, said the state’s chief minister J. Jayalalithaa should convene an all-party meeting on the issue and seek a solution after meeting Modi.
Karnataka’s top officials also expressed disappointment.
“We are unhappy with the decision; injustice meted out again and again. We will challenge the order in Supreme Court tomorrow," said Karnataka home minister G. Parameshwara, who met senior police officers to beef up security ahead of the Supreme Court verdict.
“The BJP and Congress may be very strong in Karnataka, but they have no major stake in Tamil Nadu. So, they are more worried about losing their vote bank in Karnataka than Tamil Nadu," said Chennai-based political analyst Ravindran Duraisamy.
“The crucial thing is the numbers are coming down. From 12,000 cusecs per day, it has now come down to 3,000 per day. The bulk of it will be taken care of by the last few days’ rains," said Narendra Pani, a Karnataka-based political analyst and professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies.
“Whoever is in possession of the resource will have the upper hand and, in this case, it is Karnataka. Whatever the Supreme Court order is, it is the Karnataka government that has to execute it and also maintain law and order in the state," Duraiswamy said.
Pani expected the North-East monsoon to fulfil the immediate water needs of Tamil Nadu, which would slowly put an end to this dispute for the year.
Bengaluru was rocked by violence following the last two verdicts. One person died, around 100 buses were burnt and Rs20,000 crore of productivity and business losses to companies were reported after last Monday’s violence and arson.
Karnataka BJP president B. S. Yeddyurappa urged the state government not to release water to Tamil Nadu—“no matter what the consequences are".
“The state government must say it is well-nigh impossible due to existing circumstances and stick to this stance in the interest of the people in general and farmers in particular," Yeddyurappa said.
Preeti Zachariah in Bengaluru and Dharani Thangavelu in Chennai contributed to this story.