Shettar, Jaya talks on Cauvery fail

Shettar, Jaya talks on Cauvery fail

The talks between the chief ministers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on sharing of Cauvery water failed to find a solution, with Jagadish Shettar turning down J Jayalalitha’s demand for release of 39 tmcft water over the next 15 days.

Shettar told Jayalalitha that Karnataka had just 37 tmcft in its reservoirs due to depleted inflow, and it was not possible to release any more water for its samba paddy crop in Tamil Nadu. The discussions took place at a star hotel in the City.

The talks, held at the instance of the Supreme Court lasted just 50 minutes. The meeting wound up once Jayalalitha realised that Shettar would not budge from his stand. Interacting with the media, she said her government would take the matter back to Supreme Court to direct Karnataka to release water.

Held at the instance of the Supreme Court, the talks lasted from 3 pm to 4 pm.
Jayalalitha told Shettar that the effective storage at Mettur dam in her state was only 6.34 tmc ft which was grossly insufficient to irrigate the standing crops on about 14.93 lakh acres. Failure of the crop would put lakhs of farmers under severe hardship.

Shettar countered that the distress conditions in Karnataka did not allow for release of more water to Tamil Nadu. The present live storage in the Cauvery basin reservoirs, at 37 tmc ft, could not even meet the State’s own irrigation and drinking water needs, he said.

Jayalalitha told reporters that she had demanded a “bare minimum” requirement of 30 tmc ft but Karnataka had flatly refused, saying it could not release even a single drop of water.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister said it was only at the instance of the Supreme Court that she came to Bangalore. “We will go back and inform Supreme Court about the outcome of today’s meeting”, she said.

Both sides denied that the Tamil Nadu chief minister and her team had walked out of the meeting. “The Karnataka CM kept repeating that they cannot give any water. They kept suggesting that we can meet later”, Jayalalitha said.

On his part, Shettar told media persons that of the 37 tmc ft available in the State’s reservoirs 20 tmc ft was required for drinking water needs of Bangalore and towns in the Cauvery basin. Besides, 10 tmc ft was required for environmental purposes, leaving only seven tmc ft for the standing crops of the State. “We tried our best to make Tamil Nadu understand our limitation and placed facts and figures about the ground reality”, the chief minister said.

Three-point approach

He said he suggested a “three-point approach” to find an amicable solution to Cauvery imbroglio outside the purview of the court, including building reservoirs in the reach below Shivanasamudram and Mettur to increase storage, and constitution of a mediation committee comprising experts from  both the states to evolve a “distress formula”.
 
However, the offer was not accepted by Tamil Nadu. “We even informed Tamil Nadu that we were ready to examine and assess their demand and meet again to take the discussion forward in Chennai after our assessment”, Shettar said.

Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai said Tamil Nadu’s claim that only 6.34 tmc ft was available in Mettur dam was unfounded as the dead storage capacity and 5 tmc ft of drinking water backup had not been considered.

“In effect, they have 16.75 tmc ft in Mettur and have the advantage of further inflow due to the north east monsoon. Tamil Nadu is placed in a much better position than Karnataka”, Bommai argued.

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