Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday walked out of the Cauvery River Authority talks, also involving Karnataka and Pondicherry, saying that the decision to share the 'distress' arising out of water paucity would adversely affect her state, Union Water Resources Minister Arjun Charan Sethi said.
"All agreed that there is a distress situation. We also agreed that the distress would have to be shared among all the basin states. The distress-sharing formula will be worked out by the monitoring committee within a fortnight," he added.
The minister, however, claimed that the Tamil Nadu chief minister had agreed to share the 'distress', before staging a walkout.
Grilled by reporters that Jayalalithaa's apparent dissatisfaction about the talks made her stage a walkout in protest, Sethi insisted that the Tamil Nadu chief minister had agreed to the 'distress sharing formula'.
Earlier Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at whose Race Course road residence the talks were held and who is the chairman of the authority, said in his opening remarks that the Cauvery basin was among the most severely affected following deficit rainfall in recent years.
He pointed out that the Karnataka reservoirs had received an inflow of a little over 50 per cent of the last 11 years' average, while the inflow into the Mettur reservoir was less than 30 per cent of what had been indicated in the interim order of the tribunal.
"This coupled with the scanty rainfall in large number of districts in the basin states resulted in extensive and excruciating distress to the farming community," the prime minister said.
SC asks Cauvery panel to meet by Aug 12
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