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September 25, 1999
Vajpayee calls urgent meeting of Cauvery Authority
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has convened an urgent meeting of the Cauvery River Authority in New Delhi on September 29 to discuss the situation arising out of Karnataka's refusal to provide immediate relief to Tamil Nadu and save the crop in one million hectares in the river's delta.
Vajpayee is to cut short his election campaign to chair the meeting, to be attended by the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry, the prime minister's office said tonight.
The prime minister is the chairman of the CRA.
Earlier, a delegation of ministers from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry met Vajpayee soon after his arrival from Lucknow and explained the situation arising out of Karnataka's rejection of the formula proposed by the CRA's monitoring committee.
The delegation was led by Tamil Nadu Public Works Minister Durai Murugan.
Immediately after the meeting, which lasted 40 minutes, the prime minister held discussions with Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra, Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar and Water Resources Secretary Hasan.
Sources said that though the prime minister assured the delegation that the Centre would take steps to save the crop in Tamil Nadu, he did not spell out what he proposed to do.
Sources said the delegation told the prime minister that this was the first test case for the CRA, with Karnataka, which had agreed in principle to implement the interim award of the Cauvery Waters Tribunal, going back on it.
They said the situation in Tamil Nadu has become critical since the water in the Mettur reservoir will last hardly three more days.
The delegation said that though Tamil Nadu was not happy with the quantum of water suggested by the monitoring committee (9 thousand million cubic feet), it would abide by the decision since the need for water is very acute in the Cauvery delta in Thanjavur.
Tamil Nadu also contested Karnataka's claim that the current season is a distress period, saying the state still has 93 tmc ft of water stored for a future crop. Tamil Nadu on the other hand wants water to save the standing crop.
The delegation included Durai Murugan, Agriculture Minister Veerapandi Arumugam and Law Minister Aladi Aruna. Pondicherry Chief Minister R Janakiraman was also present.
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