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CM sidesteps queries on Cauvery water release

BELGAUM, Dec 6, 2012, DHNS: 2:03 IST
Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar. File Photo

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Thursday dropped enough hints that Karnataka would comply with the Supreme Court order that the State must release 10,000 cusecs water daily to Tamil Nadu, although he would not categorically state the stand of the State on the issue.

It is important to protect farmers’ interests within the legal framework, he said. In the past, whenever the directions of the SC, Cauvery River Authority and Cauvery Monitoring Committee were not complied with, it had affected the interest of farmers, he added.
Shettar was replying to a debate in the Legislative Assembly here, on the SC direction to the State to release water.

The House set aside its scheduled agenda, with the Opposition parties demanding that the Chief Minister make clear the State’s stand on the issue.

Avoiding a direct reply, Shettar said that he, along with Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai, would lead a delegation of the members of Parliament from the Cauvery basin to discuss with the Prime Minister and Union Water Resources Minister in New Delhi on Friday. They would also discuss the issue with legal and subject experts, he added. Shettar, along with his cabinet colleague Basavaraj Bommai, later left for Delhi by a special flight.

The Prime Minister’s office had not given an appointment to the Chief Minister till late in the evening, officials in the CM’s office said.In the legislative council, when the Opposition members insisted that Shettar should either say whether water would be released, both the chief minister and Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai said “the matter was sensitive and everything can’t be discussed” when the CMC was meeting on Friday and the Supreme Court was set to hear the matter on Monday. Shettar also said he can’t be forced to give reply “in a particular manner”.

In his 10-page written reply, the chief minister said all efforts had been made by his government to explain the practical difficulties faced by the state to release any more water to Tamil Nadu due to the prevailing drought and paucity of water in the basin reservoirs.

However, the Opposition members, in particular the legislators from the Cauvery basin, demanded that Shettar categorically state that water would not be released, regardless of the legal consequences.

Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah, H D Revanna and C S Putte Gowda (JD-S) among others said there was severe water crisis in the basin. Standing crops have withered and there is no drinking water. In such a situation, the State should represent its case effectively before the CMC and the apex court that it can’t release water, they said.

When Shettar would not make any clear statement on the State’s stand, the Opposition members staged dharna in both the Houses forcing the Chair to adjourn the Houses to Friday.

Water released to Tamil Nadu

Karnataka government released water from the Krishnaraja Sagar dam to Tamil Nadu, late Thursday night, reports DHNS from Mysore. As much as 2,500 cusecs of water was released from each of four gates around 11 pm. However, officials concerned did not confirm.

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