Karnataka CM to meet PM Friday over Cauvery water row
Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar Thursday announced that he will lead a delegation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday to seek relief for the state on the issue of Cauvery water release to Tamil Nadu.
The delegation which will comprise central ministers from Karnataka and state's Cauvery belt parliament members will also meet Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat, he said in the assembly, whose winter session began in this north Karnataka town, about 500 km from Bangalore, Wednesday.
Shettar's move follows Wednesday's Supreme Court directive to the state to release daily 10,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till Sunday.
The chief minister's announcement did not satisfy opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) members who staged a 'dharna' (protest) near the speaker's table leading to early adjournment of the house for the day.
The Congress and JD-S members wanted a categorical statement from the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state that Cauvery water will not be released to Tamil Nadu even thought it might be contempt of court.
Shettar declined to give any such assurance and his detailed response indicated that the state might have no option but to release the water as per the apex court's order.
He told the agitated members that non-compliance with the court's directive in the past had not benefited the farmers in the state's Cauvery belt.
The opposition members also wanted assurance that the state's representatives will make a strong case against water release at Friday's meeting of Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) in New Delhi.
The CMC comprises central water resources secretary and chief secretaries of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
The four have to share Cauvery water, though the long-standing dispute is mainly between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara also opposed release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu in spite of the Supreme Court's directive to the state to do so.
"It might be contempt of court but the government should not release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu," he told reporters here.
The Congress's firm stand against obeying the apex court directive came even as protests continued for the second day in Cauvery belt in southern Karnataka.
Vehicular movement between Bangalore and Mysore, 130 km apart, was disrupted for several hours as farmers and Kannada activists blocked the state highway in Mandya district, about 80 km from Karnataka capital.
Mandya, a sugar and paddy belt is the hotbed of agitation if Cauvery water is to be released to Tamil Nadu whenever Karnataka is affected by drought, like this year.
The Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir, from where the water is released to the neighbouring state, is in Mandya district, though it is located just 25 km from Mysore.
A tense situation at KRS was avoided Thursday as a farmers' group dropped plan to lay siege to the reservoir following Shettar's assurance that his government would seek a review of the apex court's Wednesday's directive.
Former Congress minister and head of the 'Cauvery Hitarakshana Samiti' (Committee to protect interests of Cauvery belt farmers in Karnataka) G. Made Gowda told reporters in Mandya that siege plan had been put off for the time being.
"If water is release, then we have no other option but to lay siege to prevent it," he said.
Schools and Colleges in Mandya district were shut Thursday as a precautionary measure.
Entry of tourists to KRS has also been prohibited till Sunday.
The apex court had said Wednesday that the CMC should meet Thursday or Friday to decide on the quantum of water required by the two states.
Tamil Nadu has been demanding at least 30TMC feet (thousand million cubic feet) water to save standing paddy crops in its Cauvery belt.