Protests over the Cauvery water dispute intensified in Tamil Nadu on Sunday, with farmers in Trichy demanding the release of river water into their state while pro-Kannada outfits as well as farmers in Karnataka’s Mandya also continued to agitate.
The DMK said Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin is doing everything possible to handle the issue diplomatically even though the Karnataka government’s argument is that it does not have enough water to send to its neighbouring state.
“…Though their (Karnataka) argument is that there is a lack of water in Cauvery, at the same time Tamil Nadu is suffering as the delta farmers are totally dependent on agriculture… Tamil Nadu government is trying through legal process and, in all possible manner, seeking the support of the union government and jal shakti minister as well as coordinating through all possible sources to settle this issue amicably… our CM is very diplomatically handling this issue and we are hopeful that Tamil Nadu will get its due,” said DMK MP Tiruchi Siva.
The pro-Kannada organisations have called for ‘Bengaluru Bandh’ on September 26. They appealed to schools, colleges, shopkeepers, owners of commercial establishments, factories, companies and transporters to support their call.
Reacting to the bandh call, Karnataka deputy CM DK Shivakumar said, “The state government is committed to protecting the interest of the state. Yet, the opposition parties are giving a political dimension to the Cauvery issue.” He said the state government has made a representation to the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) with regard to the release of water to Tamil Nadu.
The Karnataka government has said it will take all necessary steps to protect the interest of the people of the state and its farmers, by ensuring water for both crops and drinking water. “We have protected the interest of the farmers and people of the state and will continue to do so. Let those who want to do politics on the issue continue to do so,” Shivakumar said.
Police have tightened security across the state. The protests erupted after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with orders of the CWMA and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) directing the state to release 5,000 cusecs of water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu. There are protests in the Cauvery river basin districts of Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagara, Ramanagara, Bengaluru and other parts of the state urging the state not to release water to Tamil Nadu. The agitation has spread to districts like Chitradurga, Ballari, Davangere, Koppal and Vijayapura.
The Karnataka government has pitched the Mekedatu balancing reservoir project as a solution to settle the Cauvery river water dispute between both states. It has also indicated that the state will initiate the process towards realising the project.
Shivakumar said: “Already, 3,000 to 3,500 cusecs of water is flowing to Tamil Nadu as it is, and along with this we will also try to protect the interest of the farmers and drinking water requirements, this is our firm commitment.”
He said the state water resources minister did not specify whether Karnataka will comply with the CWMA’s order or not. Asked if Karnataka was open to talks with Tamil Nadu, he said, “Not now… let’s see after the 15-day period is over. We have requested the Centre to intervene and hold talks between both states.”
As of now 3,000 to 3,500 cusecs water is flowing to Tamil Nadu, and inflow is around 8,000 cusecs. The Mekedatu balancing reservoir project came up during the proceedings in the SC as well. But Tamil Nadu, in the past, has orally said it should not be taken up while the previous state government had filed an affidavit regarding the project. Despite Rs 1,000 crore set aside for the project, work could not be taken up.
The CWMA on September 18 asked Karnataka to continue releasing 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for another 15 days, after the CWRC made such a recommendation last week.
The SC, meanwhile, has rejected applications of both states. The court refused to interfere with orders of the CWMA and CWRC directing Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu, following which protests erupted in different parts of the state.
With inputs from News18