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September 20, 1999
Pressure mounts on Karnataka to release Cauvery water
Union Petroleum Minister Vazhapadi K Ramamurthy and Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister Durai Murugan today urged Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to intervene in his capacity as the chairman of the Cauvery River Authority and prevail upon Karnataka to release Cauvery water to save the standing Kuruvai crop in 200,000 acres in the delta region of the state.
Addressing a press conference here, Ramamurthy, who had quit the union ministry in 1991 over the issue, said if Karnataka did not not implement the Cauvery Dispute Tribunal's interim award, as agreed upon at the meeting of the chief ministers of the riparian states in August last year, the initiatives taken by the prime minister in this regard would go in vain.
Durai Murugan, addressing newspersons at the secretariat here after a two-day visit to the tail-end areas of the delta region, described the situation as grave. "The ongoing regulatory arrangements in irrigation can be sustained only till October 4 or 5," he added.
He ruled out direct talks with Karnataka "as it is the responsibility of the authority, of which the prime minister is the chairman, to direct Karnataka to release water."
He said Chief Minister M Karunanidhi had written to Vajpayee in this connection and Chief Secretary A P Muthusamy and other officials were in Delhi to meet authority secretary Z Hasan and officials at the Prime Minister's Office.
While Durai Murugan said Karnataka could make good the shorfall of 30.12 tmc-ft of water from its reservoirs whose storage position was 130 tmc-ft, Ramamurthy said the reservoirs in Karnataka were full, but the J H Patel government was "playing politics" as elections in some constituencies in the Cauvery basin areas, which had been postponed, were yet to be held.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party state general secretary, L Ganesan, said the Centre should ensure release of water to Tamil Nadu.
He said it should be easier for Vajpayee to find a solution to the crisis now as the ruling parties in both the states were allies of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
Tamil Maanila Congress president, G K Moopanar, in the meantime, has deputed a three-member team led by former union minister , Jayanthi Natarajan, to call on President K R Narayanan and Prime Minister Vajpayee and request them to prevail upon Karnataka to release water.
Moopanar faulted the Karnataka government for not acting in accordance with the tribunal's interim award or the guidelines specified in the accord reached among the riparian states in August last year.
A Pondicherry report said Chief Minister R V Janakiraman, after a high-level meeting to assess the situation in Karaikal region of the union territory, has written to Vajpayee, requesting him to direct Karnataka to release Cauvery water for the Karaikal region and requested Karunanidhi to take appropriate steps in this regard.
Janakiraman said water was needed to save Kuruvai crops in 941 hectares and Samba crop in 645 hectares in the region.
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