Siddu in a bind over continuing water release

Last Updated 20 September 2016, 19:33 IST

After the Supreme Court’s Tuesday’s direction on the Cauvery issue, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is in a dilemma whether to take a hardline decision or continue to release water to Tamil Nadu.

Prominent politicians of all parties and representatives of farmers have built pressure on the state government, in particular Siddaramaiah, to stop further release of water to Tamil Nadu given the severe distress situation in the Cauvery basin.

Siddaramaiah is expected to discuss the stand to be adopted by the government at the state Cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. As the Opposition parties too are strongly opposing the court’s verdict, he is trying to garner their support. He has called a meeting of all-party leaders, MPs and district incharge ministers on Wednesday evening to hear their views. The pros and cons of having an exclusive body to monitor water levels in the reservoirs of the Cauvery basin would also be discussed at the meetings.

Official sources said the government is also contemplating filing a special leave petition before a larger bench of the Supreme Court challenging the Tuesday’s order.

Sources said Siddaramaiah spoke to senior leaders in the Congress high command on the options before his government. They included whether it is time to take a hard decision like stopping further release of water and submit before the Supreme Court that it is not willful disobedience. The decision is due to the existing circumstances in the Cauvery basin.
However, there is division among Siddaramaiah’s Cabinet colleagues on confronting the Supreme Court as it could even jeopardise the continuation of the government. The state’s legal team has also advised the government that it should comply with the Supreme Court order, it is said.

Speaking to reporters here, Siddaramaiah remained cautious and only said the State Cabinet will discuss all aspects of the court order. He said the government is in the process of obtaining the opinion of its legal team and technical committee.

“We had submitted facts and figures before the Cauvery Supervisory Committee and also the Supreme Court on the severe distress in the Cauvery basin. Yet, we have received such an order,” he said.

The government is also under pressure to convene the legislature session to discuss the pros and cons of releasing water as well as the Cauvery Management Board.
Once the Board is constituted, Karnataka will lose supervisory control over the four Cauvery basin reservoirs — the KRS, the Hemavathi, the Kabini and the Harangi as they will come under the direct charge of the Central Water Commission.
DH News Service

(Published 20 September 2016, 19:33 IST)

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