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September 21, 1999
PM's intervention fails to resolve Cauvery dispute
An immediate solution to the Cauvery waters dispute appears elusive despite Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's intervention, with the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu governments taking divergent stands on the release of water and when the shortfall in the release is to be made good.
A press statement issued by the Tamil Nadu government disputed Karnataka Irrigation Minister K N Nage Gowda's interpretation of the Cauvery River Waters Tribunal's interim award on the issue of making good the shortfall.
Objecting to Nage Gowda's claim that the shortfall could be carried over and the accumulated deficit made good by the end of the season, the Tamil Nadu government said the monthly quantum should be supplied equally week by week. The deficit in a week should be compensated in the subsequent week.
It said the tribunal had nowhere stated, as claimed by Nage Gowda, that the deficit quantum of water could be released at the end of the season.
Stating that the amount stored at the Mettur dam now would only last till the end of this month, it said releasing the deficit at the end of the season would worsen the situation, especially in the context of imminent danger of loss of crop in the Cauvery delta.
It asserted that Karnataka's reservoirs now have comfortable storage. Hence, the short supply during July-September this year was improper and against the interim award.
Questioning Nage Gowda's stand that the deficit so far amounts to only 17.77 thousand million cubic feet, the Tamil Nadu government said the deficit as of today is 31.60 tmc-ft. Stating that this deficit can only be compensated by June-July next year is adding "insult to injury", it added.
The Tamil Nadu government said Karnataka ought to be aware that the tribunal had clearly ordered, on April 3, 1992, that in case of acute distress, the parties could approach the tribunal.
"There is obviously no distress in Karnataka as revealed by comfortable storage levels in its reservoirs. The tribunal has not passed any order whatsoever in 1996 regarding any distress formula in the event of monsoon failure," it added.
It asserted that Karnataka should release 31.60 tmc-ft of water to Tamil Nadu without further delay to save the kuruvai crop, which would wither if further releases do not reach Mettur by the month-end.
Official sources told the United News of India at Mettur that at the present rate of discharge of 17,527 cusecs, the storage in the dam would last only for four to five days of irrigation in the delta. Also, the power position in Tamil Nadu is likely to be affected within three days on account of the low storage.
The sources said the water level came down from yesterday's 50.66 ft to 47.5 ft, with the inflow being a meagre 398 cusecs this evening.
The power generation at the hydroelectric plant at the dam will be halted when the water level comes down to 40 ft. This will lead to a shortfall of 200 MW in power generation in Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, the opposition All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Congress and the Left parties have decided to stage demonstrations in front of the local bodies in the delta region and all district headquarters in the state on September 28, demanding the immediate release of Cauvery water by Karnataka. A decision to this effect was taken at an all-party meeting, organised by the Dravidar Kazhagam in Madras this morning.
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