Days after he advised the Siddaramaiah government to stop any further release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, former prime minister H D Deve Gowda continues to be a busy man.
Amid a steady stream of visitors at his Padmanabhanagar residence, Gowda spends his time going through volumes of reports on the Cauvery dispute, court orders and related documents. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has begun seeking Gowda’s guidance on the issue.
Gowda says the government will come out of the contempt of court threat in the next few days. The state should now focus on making a strong contention before the Supreme Court when it takes up for final hearing on October 18 the original suit, challenging the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT).
In an interview to Vijesh Kamath of DH, the JD(S) supremo had this to share.
You advised the government to stop further release of water to Tamil Nadu. Now, the government faces the threat of being hauled up for contempt of court.
The court cannot initiate contempt proceedings. There will be no such problem as the court has surpassed its jurisdiction. Besides, the court order is unimplementable. Should we be giving priority for water to crops or human survival? We do not have water even for drinking purpose. We should tell the court that a practical decision has been taken.
But on earlier occasions, you had said the government should comply with Supreme Court orders. Why the change in stand ?
I had planned to go on an indefinite hunger strike in protest against the Supreme Court order of September 5. However, when our appeal for modification was not considered and the state got adverse orders, the public outcry was becoming too hot to handle. We had to take a hard decision.
What should be the government’s next move?
There are several flaws in the final award of the CWDT. We should pinpoint them before the Supreme Court when a three-judge bench takes it up for final hearing on October 18. We should highlight that there was division among the two members and chairman of the CWDT. A divided tribunal award cannot be implemented. The award also allots 27 tmcft for unnamed and undecided projects in Tamil Nadu. It also states one-third of Bengaluru comes under Cauvery basin and drinking water can be provided only to that region. This cannot be accepted and must be questioned.
You have sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Cauvery dispute. But there has been no response so far.
I had four meetings with Modi and they were cordial. The PM is aware of our problem and has good knowledge of the Cauvery issue. That is all I have got to say, as of now.
What were your efforts to solve the Cauvery imbroglio during your tenure as PM?
I had called up the then Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi and told him that we should sort out the problem. I suggested that Karnataka could construct a reservoir at Mekedatu. During a distress year, Tamil Nadu could make use of water from this reservoir. During normal years, Karnataka could supply water from Mekedatu to Chamarajanagar and surrounding areas. Karunanidhi said he was ready to accept the proposal, but ‘that lady’ (AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa) would object. He said she was too stubborn and could not be convinced. The proposal had to be dropped.
The court has also ordered the Centre that the Cauvery Management Board be constituted within four weeks.
It cannot be done. The court has surpassed its jurisdiction. When the matter is yet to be heard by a three-judge bench, how can a two-judge bench pass such orders? The question of propriety of the judiciary will arise.
You visited the Vidhana Soudha after a gap of 20 years to participate in the all-party meeting on Cauvery. Why did you keep away for all these years?
It was a personal decision. I am not a member of the Assembly. What work will I have in the Vidhana Soudha? Siddaramaiah requested that I attend the all-party meeting and I agreed.