State govt bungled big time on Cauvery row: Congress

State govt bungled big time on Cauvery row: Congress

The Congress on Saturday squarely blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the State for the Cauvery river water-sharing crisis and said it would soon take a delegation to New Delhi to appraise the Prime Minister of the situation in the basin region.

Party leaders Siddaramaiah and G Parameshwara said irrigation and legal experts had pointed out a series of lapses on the State government’s part in arguing the case before the Cauvery River Authority (CRA), headed by the prime minister.

“The government lacks seriousness and has no responsibility. Due to its failure to effectively present the case, the State was forced to release water to Tamil Nadu,” they said.

They were speaking to reporters after a meeting with irrigation and legal experts, including Raja Rao, B V Acharya and A N Jayaram.

Senior Congress leaders, including union ministers S M Krishna and Mallikarjuna Kharge, Ambareesh, H K Patil and T B Jayachandra, were present at the meeting.

The Congress has been on the backfoot ever since the CRA ordered the release of water. The party leaders, especially union ministers from the State, have come under attack by the agitating farmers in the basin region for not making efforts to get the State justice.

Siddaramaiah recently faced the wrath of the farmers, who forced him to leave the protest venue in Mandya. Saturday’s meeting is seen as an effort to prevent any damage to the party.

Parameshwara alleged that the government had overlooked some of the key points while presenting the case before the CRA. For instance, the State loses six to seven tmc ft of water from all four Cauvery reservoirs annually due to evaporation.

Tamil Nadu has  admitted that it gets about 45 tmc ft of underground water in the delta region and the drinking water requirement in the basin region of Karnataka is about 30 tmc ft.

None of these important points was highlighted before the CRA and the Supreme Court, he said.

Besides, the government’s goodwill gesture to release 10,000 cusecs a day between September 12 and 20 was a big mistake, and Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar’s decision to walk out of the CRA meeting was a blunder.

The prime minister, as a result, thought it was ideal to ask Karnataka to release 9,000 cusecs a day, he said.

Siddaramaiah alleged that instead of strongly defending the case, the ruling party tried to politicise the issue by blaming the prime minister.

“The then-prime minister A B Vajpayee too had, in 2002-03, ordered the release of 9,000 cusecs. But the Congress did not politicise it,” he said. Asked why the prime minister had denied an appointment to the chief minister, he said it was perhaps Shettar was a CRA member.

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