New Delhi/Bangalore: On Friday, Karnataka was directed by the Cauvery Monitoring Committee to release 12 TMC (thousand million cubic) feet of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu during December. The state said that it would appeal the order. While the release has sparked protests in Mandya district, about 80 km from Bangalore and where the KRS reservoir is located.
Union Water Resources Secretary Dhruv Vijay Singh said that he hoped Karnataka will find a way to ensure "receipt of 12 TMC by Tamil Nadu at Mettur Dam in December".
Expressing his disappointment, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar said in New Delhi that the state will appeal against the order to the Supreme Court, on whose directive the committee met in the national capital on Friday.
Shettar, who had met union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat and told him that Karnataka was in no position to release water to Tamil Nadu, also said that his government will appeal to the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) to nullify the CMC order.
Headed by the prime minister, the CRA comprises chief ministers of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. The three states and the union territory have to share waters of the Cauvery river, which rises in Karnataka and flows into Bay of Bengal after traversing 800 kms though them.
The CMC meeting also decided that the water resources ministry will notify the final award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal (CWDT) this month.
Official sources said that after it, institutions like the CMC and CRA will not be required as the government has decided to set up a water regulation committee having representatives from all co-basin states as well as experts in hydrology and agriculture.
The panel will be headed by a central government official and will be under its control.
Karnataka Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who is also in New Delhi, told reporters that the CMC, comprising central water resources secretary and chief secretaries of the three states and Puducherry, has not taken the ground reality into consideration while deciding the water needs of the two states.
Karnataka has been arguing that the water storage at its Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir is only 21 TMC feet and is required to meet the state's irrigation and drinking needs, including that of Bangalore, which heavily depends on Cauvery water for drinking purposes.
It also noted it has declared 156 taluks (revenue subdivisions) out of 176 as drought following failure of monsoon this year. Of these, 45 are in the state's Cauvery belt.
However Tamil Nadu has been arguing that it too has not received the expected rains this season and if 30 TMC feet of water is not given to it in December, paddy crops in thousands of acres in the state will die.
The CMC met following the Supreme Court's Wednesday directive.
The apex court had also ordered Karnataka to release 10,000 cusecs of water daily till Sunday and had asked the CMC to submit its decision to the court Monday when the matter will be heard again.
After a day's delay, Karnataka began releasing water to Tamil Nadu late on Thursday as it threatened to file a contempt of court petition.
On the other hand, farmers and Kannada activists blocked traffic between Bangalore and Mysore in Mandya and picketed district authorities offices. They have called for a shutdown Saturday.
Schools and colleges in Mandya remained closed for the second day on Friday and authorities announced they will not function till Saturday.
Vehicular movement between the two states was also stopped at the border district of Chamarajanagar, about 200 km from Bangalore, in Karnataka.
The water row disrupted the legislature session being held in Belgaum, about 500 km north of Bangalore.
With opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular strongly protesting against water release, the assembly and the legislative council were adjourned till Monday without transacting the scheduled business.