Bengaluru: The Karnataka government on Wednesday night decided to defer the release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till September 23, when a special session of the state legislature would take a decision on the latest Supreme Court direction.
“The Cabinet has decided to defer release of water,” chief minister Siddaramaiah told reporters in a brief statement after an emergency cabinet meeting which was preceded by an all-party and council of ministers meetings during the day.
He said the cabinet decided to convene the special session of the state legislature on September 23 in the backdrop of the apex court order on Tuesday ordering Karnataka to release 6,000 cusecs of water till September 27 from that day.
He termed the Supreme Court’s order as “unimplementable.”
The Cauvery Supervisory Committee had on September 19 asked Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs per day from September 21 to 30 but the apex court doubled the quantum to 6,000 cusecs from September 21 to 27 after Tamil Nadu pressed for water to save its samba paddy crop.
On September 5, the court had ordered release of 15,000 cusecs of water for the next 10 days to address the plight of the farmers in Tamil Nadu.
The quantum was reduced on September 12 to 12,000 cusecs to be released till September 20.
Karnataka had complied with these directions thought it had been maintaining that the storage in its reservoirs was inadequate to meet the drinking water needs of its people.
A bench of justices Dipak Misra and U.U. Lalit had also asked the Centre to constitute within four weeks, the Cauvery Water Management Board (CWMB) as directed by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) in its award.
BJP boycotts all party meet
The all-party meeting was boycotted by principal opposition BJP which criticised the Siddaramaiah government for not taking any specific decision keeping the interests of farmers in mind despite holding all-party meetings earlier. It was attended by former prime minister and JDS supremo H.D. Deve Gowda, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and former chief minister M. Veerappa Moily.
BJP union ministers from Karnataka had conveyed their inability to attend the meet because of the union cabinet meeting, Siddaramaiah said.
“In the backdrop of the interim order of the Honourable Supreme Court dated 20-09-2016, government had today called an all-party meeting and discussed the matter in detail. In the all-party meeting it was unanimously decided to call the joint session of the state legislature.
“In this background, the Cabinet has decided to request his Excellency the Governor to call a session of both the houses of the legislature on 23-09-2016 at 11 am.
“Further, until the session decides on the issue, the release of water has been deferred,” the Chief Minister said in a prepared statement.
State BJP President B.S. Yeddyurappa welcomed the state government’s late night decision, maintaining that the party had been from the beginning insisting on convening the legislature session and not to release water.
“Though belated, it is a welcome decision,” he said.
“We will support and cooperate with the government in the legislature session,” Yeddyurappa said.
JDS leader and former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said after the all-party meeting that “not even a single drop of water should be released to Tamil Nadu for any reason whatsoever”.
When asked about BJP not attending the all-party meeting, Siddaramaiah said, “I hope that they will participate in the Assembly.”
Sporadic protests continue
Sporadic protests over the water issue continued in districts in the river basin, especially in Mandya, the epicentre of the Cauvery agitation, where the agitators blocked the Bengaluru-Mysuru road at various places.
The government, which has appealed for peace, made elaborate security arrangements in the city and southern districts to ensure that no untoward incidents happen.
State Reserve Police, City Armed Reserve Police, Rapid Action Force and Quick Reaction Teams have been deployed all over city, where prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrpC is in force.
City police has prohibited sale of liquor and opening of bars, wine shops and pubs from 6 AM today to 1 AM tomorrow in the commissionerate limits.