Better to release some water than lose power: Ministers to CM

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar is learnt to have asked a section of his cabinet colleagues to take a call on sacrificing power or releasing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.

 Shettar is said to have posed the question during his closed door interaction with the cabinet colleagues after a meeting of floor leaders convened in the wake of the Supreme Court directing the State to comply with the directive of the Cauvery River Authority, headed by the prime minister, to release water to Tamil Nadu.

The cabinet ministers are said to have been in favour of releasing at least some quantum of water for the next four days and approach the Supreme Court with a plea that the State was not in a position to release more.

A minister is understood to have argued that there was no point in defying the apex court order. Previous government too had released water to Tamil Nadu following directions by the Supreme Court.

Ministers Ramadas, Basavaraj Bommai, R Ashoka, Suresh Kumar and Yogeeshwara were present at the meeting.

Past instances

S M Krishna, when he was the chief minister, had faced a tough situation when it came to releasing Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu in 2002. The Supreme Court had directed the State to release six tmc ft of water to Tamil Nadu. But due to the severe drought, the State, as decided at the all-party meeting, decided not to release water.

Krishna had said that he would release water if it rained or he would take out a padayatra in the Cauvery basin explaining the difficulties faced by the government to abide by the court order. Much against his party diktat, he had taken out a padayatra from Bangalore to Mysore via Mandya. His wife Prema had accompanied him then. By the time he reached Mandya, the basin area received heavy north-east monsoon rain. And water was released as per the direction.

Krishna, who hails from Maddur of Mandya district, had said that as chief minister, handling the Cauvery issue was the toughest one. It was a mentally taxing and agonising issue, he had said.

In 1995, Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court demanding the immediate release of 40 tmc ft of water. The Supreme Court refused to entertain Tamil Nadu’s petition and asked the state to approach the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

The Tribunal recommended that Karnataka release 11 tmc ft. Karnataka said it could not implement the Tribunal direction. Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court again, which  recommended that then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao intervene and find a solution. Rao persuaded then chief minister H D Deve Gowda to release six tmc ft of water and he did. The government had released water at midnight.

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