The long and short of Cauvery talks

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar on Thursday put forth a three-point approach to find an amicable solution to the Cauvery imbroglio with Tamil Nadu, outside the purview of the court, by suggesting that the two states build reservoirs in the reach below Shivansamudra and Mettur to increase the storage.

At the chief minister-level talks in Bangalore, Shettar told his counterpart J Jayalalitha that the two states needed to work towards an amicable and long-lasting solution to share the Cauvery waters.

The proposal put forth by the State includes building reservoirs in the reach below Shivasamudram (in Karnataka) and Mettur (in Tamil Nadu) to increase storage.

“We suggested that such reservoirs can be of use for storage in surplus years and power generation. An expert committee could be set up with representatives from both the states and the Central Water Commission to look at and evolve an action plan (to build the reservoirs),” Shettar said, briefing reporters about the deliberations of the meeting.
Karnataka also recommended constitution of a mediation committee of experts with representatives from both the states to evolve a “distress formula” that becomes the mode for sharing water whenever the monsoon fails.

Thirdly, the State recommended a “disciplined agricultural practice” in the irrigation command area of the Cauvery basin in the two states.

“The move will help improve the irrigation structures and bring about savings in current consumption,” Shettar said. However, Tamil Nadu did not show a favourable response to the suggestions and insisted that Karnataka release 30 tmc feet in the next 15 days and further release 23.4 tmc feet before the end of December.

The Tamil Nadu chief minister did not respond to the suggestions of Shettar and insisted that water should be released immediately.  Tamil Nadu was represented by Jayalalitha, the State’s Public Works Minister K V Ramalingam, Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi and seven senior officers at the meeting, while Karnataka was represented by Shettar, Basavaraj Bommai, Law Minister Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary S V Ranganath and three s0enior officers.

It was after a gap of 15 years that direct chief ministerial talks were held between the two states.  The last chief ministerial talks were held in January 1997 between J H Patel and M Karunanidhi in Chennai. Then too, the bilateral talks did not yield any solution.

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