State to take legal recourse to avoid release of water

Supreme Court order sends State into a tizzy

State to take legal recourse to avoid release of water

Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Thursday told the Legislative Assembly that the government would exhaust all legal provisions to ensure that there is no more release of the Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu in view of the prevailing drought situation in the basin.

The government will not rush through the release of water to Tamil Nadu, he added.
The minister made this assurance to the House when the Opposition Congress and JD (S) members in a pitched voice protested the Supreme Court’s directive to the State to release 2.44 tmc ft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu.

The members said the government must take a bold decision not to release water keeping the severe shortage of drinking water in the Cauvery basin.

They also said the government may have to consider changing advocates representing Karnataka in the Supreme Court as the State has always been at the receiving end in the Cauvery water sharing case. He said that all the directions given to the State were based on the interim order of the tribunal in 1991.

‘Legal angles’

Bommai said the State is committed to protect the interest of people in the basin area and would look into all legal angles while handling the case. The government has already presented before the apex court that its requirement is 22.8 tmc ft for the next few months.

At present the live capacity in the reservoirs of the basin is 13.4 tmc ft — KRS (6.9 tmc ft), Hemavathi (5.4 tmc ft) and Kabini (1.1 tmc ft). In Tamil Nadu’s Mettur dam, the live storage is 8.46 tmc ft and it is 3 tmc ft in Bhavani and the total is 11.5 tmc ft.

Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said that he along with Bommai would be taking a special flight to New Delhi on Thursday itself to meet the state’s legal counsels and return to Bangalore to present the budget proposals on Friday. He said he was ready to hold talks with Opposition leaders to take their suggestions in fighting the case in the interest of the State.

Shettar said that the direction of the apex court to Karnataka to release water ‘forthwith’ is a matter of concern. In the past, a schedule used to be given to release the water over a period of some days.

But, this time the direction is to release water ‘forthwith’ which is posing serious problem.

“We will discuss legal ways of handling the issue. I will take everyone into confidence to do the best,” he said.

Counsels blamed

While not conceding the demand to change the counsels or to hire additional counsels, Shettar said the legal experts’ team had been effectively
presenting the state’s position before the court, CRA and CMC.
 
Earlier, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said, “Karnataka has been losing its fight in the court. It looks our counsels have not been able to present the state’s drought situation effectively before the court. The government must think of hiring additional advocates to help the existing team.”

“There is sufficient water in the Mettur dam. When the state has no drinking water, how can we release water to samba crops of Tamil Nadu? The state should file an interlocutory application and boldly tell the court that it is not in a position to release water.”

JD(S) floor leader H D Revanna wondered what the Centre (meaning the Congress leaders and Prime Minister) were doing when injustice has been done to the State.
He said Tamil Nadu MPs have been pressuring the Centre to notify the tribunal
order.

The Centre should not take the side of Tamil Nadu for political reasons, he said.

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