There does not seem any end to historical dispute over Cauvery water between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
The Tamil Nadu government on Saturday demanded Karnataka to release at least 15 tmcft of Cauvery water for saving its crops, but the neighbouring state maintained that it did not have enough water.
In a letter to his Karnataka counterpart Siddaramaiah, Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami demanded an immediate release of 7 tmcft of water and the balance within a fortnight from the existing storage.
As per the 2007 order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal, Tamil Nadu has to receive 192 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet) of water every year as its share from the Cauvery river. It has only received 111.647 tmcft as on January 9 at Biligundulu as against the due of 179.871 tmcft, leaving a deficit of 68.224 tmcft.
When asked about the Tamil Nadu government’s demand, Siddaramaiah said, “We do not have water. How can we supply to them? It is not possible to release water to Tamil Nadu”.
The Karnataka chief minister was in the national capital to attend a meeting called by Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
The hearing on the Cauvery water dispute is scheduled for next month.
“We expect a favourable order,” Siddaramaiah added.
Last week, the Supreme Court had indicated that it would deliver within a month its verdict on the decades-old Cauvery water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, saying enough confusion had been created on it for over two decades.
In the letter, Palaniswami said there was a “deficit” in realisation of its share of Cauvery water this year (2017-18).
He said the storage in Mettur reservoir in Salem district, which caters to the Cauvery delta region, as on January 12 was a “meagre” 21.27 tmcft even as the utilisable storage there was 16.27 tmcft.
This was “grossly inadequate” to meet the irrigation needs of standing crops and drinking water needs during summer months, he said.
The AIADMK leader said the crop season in Karnataka was already over and that its gross storage in four major reservoirs in Cauvery basin stood at about 49.82 tmcft as on January 12.
“After reserving the minimum needs of drinking water supply and perennial crops, Karnataka can release at least 15 tmcft to Tamil Nadu to make up a part of the shortfall,” he said in the letter.
This water is required to meet the crucial needs of the standing crops in the Cauvery delta, the Tamil Nadu chief minister asserted.
He also urged Siddaramaiah to instruct the officers concerned to release 7 tmcft of water immediately and the balance within a fortnight from the existing storage for saving the standing crops.
This should be done taking into consideration the plight of a large number of farmers of the delta who depend on the success of their crop to meet their livelihood, he said.
Extending ‘Makara Sankaranthi’ greetings to Siddaramiah and to the people of Karnataka, Palaniswami said that in this ‘irrigation year’ (2017-18), Mettur reservoir could be opened only on October 2, 2017 as against the normal date of June 12.
Though the Samba crop cultivation commenced soon after and the rainfall due to the north east monsoon was helpful in the beginning, its intensity became heavy and “destructive” by October end last year, he said.
“The young crop could not withstand the onslaught of such rainfall and got damaged to a considerable extent. The farmers of the Cauvery delta had to replant the crop, as a result of which the crop period got extended”.
These standing crops need irrigation in the critical stage of crop growth maturity, namely, “milky and dough” stage, for which the irrigation has to be extended beyond January, 2018, he said.
“At this instance, I would like to point out that the farmers of Cauvery delta lost their crop last year, 2016-17, due to deficit inflows into Mettur reservoir,” Palaniswami added.