Karnataka passes modified resolution, decides to release water

PTI10_1_2016_000163A Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah meets JD(S) Supremo H.D. Devegowda, who sits on fast on the Cauvery issue with others in front of Gandhi statue at Vidhan Soudha in Bengaluru on Saturday | PTI

The Karnataka Assembly on Monday passed a modified resolution unanimously asking the government to take appropriate decision with regard to release of water to Tamil Nadu.

The state government, which had defied the Supreme Court's latest order on September 30 directing the release of 6,000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu for six days starting October 1, now hopes to make good the shortages by releasing water to its own irrigation canals, which will invariably ensure nearly 4,500 cusecs of water to TN, considering the surface water flow. 

The modified resolution follows the state counsel Fali Nariman pulling out of the case stating he could not defend the state's defiance of the SC order as "he was an officer of the court". The new resolution is expected to help the state government escape contempt of court, and also save it from breaching the privilege of the House by releasing water, which goes against the earlier resolution of the House.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, during the special legislature convened on Monday, informed the House that the government intends to release water to the irrigation canals in the Cauvery basin to help the state farmers, while safeguarding the current storage in the four reservoirs for drinking water needs of Bengaluru, Mysore, Mandya, Hassan and 600 villages in the Cauvery basin in the state. 

"Our current storage has increased  from 27.2 to 34 tmc in the last week. Once we release water into our irrigation canals, the surface water flow at Biligundlu will add up to 3,000 cusec and seepage will add another 1500 cusec. This way, farmers of both states will benefit. We must not forget that our main petition challenging the Cauvery Tribunal's final order is crucial and is  coming up for hearing on October 18," said the CM, after the SC divisional bench admonished the state for defiance. 

He further added, "Our farmers have sown across 4.76 lakh acre of land and need 43 tmc. While the current storage will be strictly set aside for drinking water, the inflows till December is expected to add another 29.2 tmc, which  can be provided for irrigation."

Lamenting over the subsequent SC orders going against Karnataka's interest, Siddaramaiah told the House that the state had always complied with court orders.

"Though we have complied with every order of the SC till now, we were forced to defy the last one due to severe crisis. My predecessors including Devegowda, Bangarappa, S.M. Krishna and Jagadish Shettar too have released water to comply with the SC order. “

On Tuesday, the court will hear  Karnataka's plea for modification of the September 30 order, along with the Centre's affidavit (submitted by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi) stating that the  SC has no jurisdiction to direct it to set-up the Cauvery Management Board as it was just a recommendation of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal and not binding on the government.

Siddaramaiah, who reiterated the Centre's argument citing Section 6(A) Clause 7 of the Inter-State Water Dispute Act, 1956, said, "A law has to be passed by Parliament for formation of CMB. Once the scheme is drawn in Parliament, we have to send the nominee to the Union water resources ministry."

The Central Water Policy clearly states that right to drinking water is a fundamental right, and part of right to living with human dignity. No justification or excuse can absolve the government of this responsibility, added the chief minister. 

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Topics : #Cauvery issue

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