Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti has called upon Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to maintain peace and ensure a cordial atmosphere.
Bharti, who held a four-hour long meeting on the Cauvery issue with Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and PWD minister of Tamil Nadu E.K. Palaniswamy in New Delhi on Thursday appealed to both states and the media to help in maintaining peace.
“I am ready to sit on hunger strike, if required, to maintain peace in both the states," said Bharti.
There was a suggestion from Karnataka to send a team of experts from Centre to both the states to study rainfall and water availability in Cauvery basin. As Tamil Nadu had some reservations on the suggestion, no compromise could be reached on the issue.
"I hope that both the states will show empathy to each other’s need for arriving at a mutually acceptable solution. I have noted the views expressed by both the states. I will convey these to Supreme Court through the Attorney General of India," she said.
Earlier, Siddaramaiah drew attention to the severe distress due to a deficient south-west monsoon, and said, "The nature of crisis faced by us in this water year has put to test the very constitutional foundation on the inter-state sharing of water in India. If an annual sharing of water on proportionate or pro-rata basis is difficult, the monthly sharing or mid-season sharing of water during distress in Cauvery basin is almost impossible."
He noted Karnataka has suffered two consecutive droughts. "In its final order, the tribunal has directed relaxation of monthly schedules in case of successive bad years. Distress sharing cannot be a mathematical reduction formula as Tamil Nadu proposes. The formula should be based on end of season calculations, which include performance of south-west and north-east monsoon and the available ground water in the delta region of Tamil Nadu," he added.
Siddaramaiah urged the Centre to send a team of experts to the Cauvery basin in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to verify the ground realities, storage, inflows and outflows for taking informed decision.
"The live storage in our four major reservoirs is 48.0tmc against the designed live storage of 104.55tmc, which is about 46 percent, indicating a precarious situation," noted Siddaramaiah.
Further, he noted that Karnataka requires at least about 26tmc water for meeting the drinking water requirement and about 60tmc for the water needs of standing crops. On the other hand, The present storage at Mettur in Tamil Nadu is about 43tmc live and it is likely to get another 42tmc by the end of season (February 2017), making it 85tmc. So, Karnataka cannot spare any water from its reservoirs, he said.
Both the Houses of Karnataka Legislature, during a special session on September 23, passed a resolution, stating that the Cauvery water would be used only for meeting the drinking water requirements of the villages and towns in the Cauvery basin and for the entire city of Bruhat Bangalore.
Meanwhile, Jayalalithaa has slammed Karnataka saying the defiance goes against spirit of the Constitution.
In her letter (read out by TN's PWD minister) she urged the Centre to ensure Karnataka releases water to Tamil Nadu and demanded that the Cauvery Management Board be constituted immediately as per the SC order.