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Rediff.com  » News » Sub-par monsoon may reignite Cauvery water dispute

Sub-par monsoon may reignite Cauvery water dispute

June 26, 2009 17:12 IST

The biggest dispute that haunts both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu is the Cauvery Water dispute. Every year, the chief ministers of both states pray for nothing but a good Monsoon so that a dispute can be avoided and the farmer community is happy over all.However with an extremely uncertain monsoon and there appearing to be nothing more than a drizzle in Karnataka, there is expected to be heightened tension between the two states.

The water level at the Krishna Raj Sagar reservoir has hit a rock bottom and this prompted Karnataka Chief Minister, B S Yeddyurappa to issue a statement that the stipulated amount of water for the month of June will not be released to Tamil Nadu. Yeddyurappa said that the water levels in all the reservoirs have hit rock bottom and hence there is no chance of releasing water.

According to information available with the government, Karnataka has recorded 136 mm of rain till date and this is 5 per cent below the average rainfall which should have been received by the state in the monsoon season. The revenue minister, Karunakar Reddy says that the water levels in the reservoirs in Karnataka are extremely low.

In the month of June, Karnataka was supposed to release 10 TMC ft of water to Tamil Nadu according to final award of the Cauvery Waters Dispute Tribunal in New Delhi. However the water level at the KRS reservoir is 72 feet, which is only 8 feet above the dead storage level of 64 feet. In comparison to this year the water levels at the same reservoir was at 102 feet. Moreover the inflow into the reservoir has come down to just 386 cusecs this year in comparison to 4120 cusecs during last June.

Yeddyurappa says, "Forget irrigation, there is an acute shortage of drinking water in the state. The water levels are so low that water would not flow even if the crest gates are opened up. The only thing that can save us is the rains, he says. However as of now the situation is under control since Tamil Nadu has not yet approached Karnataka seeking their share of water for the month of June.

Now this is not a matter that could be decided by the two chief ministers of the respective states. Both the states are governed by the verdict of the Cauvery Waters Dispute Tribunal. Both the interim and final verdicts of the tribunals had stated that Karnataka had to release water on a monthly and at times on a weekly basis. The quota stipulated for the month of June was 10 TMC of water, which now Karnataka says is impossible to release at this point in time.

An advocate who has fought the case at the tribunal preferred to remain anonymous while giving this comment, "In case there is a distress then water will have to be shared on a pro rata basis, according to the verdict of the tribunal. As of now the Tribunal has stayed the matter since Karnataka decided to approach the Supreme Court challenging the verdict."

Karnataka at the moment is not doing much to push for an early hearing as it believes that it will not have to follow the verdict of the tribunal since the matter is stayed. Tamil Nadu on the other hand says that the tribunal's verdict will have to be implemented until the Supreme Court takes a final decision. Karnataka however on its part is watchful and could also push for an early hearing if the rains continue to play spoil sport and Tamil Nadu steps up the heat and demands an immediate release of water as per the order.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru