A meeting chaired by Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti on the Cauvery impasse on Thursday failed to achieve a breakthrough in resolving the differences between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over sharing the river water.
Tamil Nadu refused to accept Karnataka’s suggestion that an expert committee should be sent to the river basin to assess the ground realities on the availability of water. Instead, it demanded the release of water in accordance with the Supreme Court and the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal final orders.
Emerging from the meeting, Bharti said: “There was a request from the Karnataka government to our ministry to form an expert committee to assess the availability of water in the Cauvery basin. The Karnataka Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) pressed for it. Tamil Nadu could not give its consent to the proposal.”
Bharti, who headed the meeting on a directive issued by the Supreme Court, said ultimately, a solution could not be achieved outside the court. The issues raised by both the states have been noted down and they will be intimated to the court, she added. The apex court will take up the matter for hearing again on Friday.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister Edappadi K Palanisamy, chief secretaries of the two states, Union Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar and officials from the Central Water Commission attended the nearly three-hour meeting. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa could not attend the meeting as she is unwell.
Promising both the states that she is always available to resolve the issue amicably, Bharti appealed to the people of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to maintain peace and harmony. “I may go on an indefinite hunger strike along the border between the two states if the problem persists,” Bharti said, making an emotional appeal.
On Karnataka’s demand for sending an expert team to the basin area, Water Resources Secretary Shekhar said there was no provision under the law in this regard and the Supreme Court order in the matter also did not speak about it. However, the Centre will intimate the Supreme Court about Karnataka’s demand, he said. Though Tamil Nadu demanded the immediate constitution of the Cauvery Management Board, Siddaramaiah is learnt to have said that there was a hearing scheduled before the court in this regard on October 11 and the issues relating to the formation of the board could be decided then.