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Karnataka fumes as Cauvery water dispute flares up again
Vicky Nanjappa in Bengaluru | April 01, 2008 12:00 IST
The already weak ties between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are set to weaken further with the ghost of the Cauvery water dispute returning to haunt both states again.
Karnataka reacted first this time by going on a rampage against the Tamils in Bengaluru, and with the way things are shaping up, it is evident that this issue is here to stay, at least till the elections are over.
The problem this time is over the Hognekal Falls on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border, which is fed by the Cauvery River. Tamil Nadu chief minister Karunanidhi's statement in the Assembly that they would go ahead with the Rs 1,330 crore drinking water scheme in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri has not gone down well with Karnataka.
The contention advanced that an appeal against the verdict of the Cauvery water dispute tribunal is seized by the Supreme Court and any project even remotely connected to the Cauvery cannot go through.
Karnataka even disputes the claim by Tamil Nadu that it has the nod of the Union Government to go ahead with this project. Karnataka, on its part, has even sought the intervention of the Centre to resolve this problem and bar Tamil Nadu from going ahead with the project, which utilises the services of the Hognekal Falls, which in turn is fed by the Cauvery.
Political parties and pro-Kannada activists have sworn to fight this issue till the very end as they are already upset with the verdict of the tribunal, which gave its ruling a year ago.
In its verdict, the tribunal had awarded an annual share of 419 thousand million cubic feet of water to Tamil Nadu, while Karnataka got 270 thousand million cubic feet. The matter was then taken in appeal by both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on the grounds that their water share was not enough.
Chief secretary of Karnataka, Sudhakar Rao, in a letter to the Union Water Resources Department, has stated that Tamil Nadu cannot take up the project as it has not disclosed the details of the project report to Karnataka. Further, the letter also seeks the intervention of the Union Government to put a halt to the project immediately.
For both the Janata Dal-Secular and the Bharatiya Janata Party, this issue has become a political platform to fight the forthcoming elections in May. JD-S leaders told rediff.com that the party is moulding itself into a regional party for this election and will fight against the attitude of the national parties, who they claim have always adopted a step-motherly approach towards Karnataka.
Moreover, the JD-S is well aware of the fact that the people of Karnataka are very touchy about the Cauvery water issue and anyone speaking against Tamil Nadu would be favoured in Karnataka.
The BJP too will use this issue during the elections. Through this issue, the party will try and question the stand taken by the Congress at the Centre. The question being asked is why the Congress is not doing anything to keep their ally, the DMK, under check.
Former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had taken a delegation of BJP leaders to Hognekal recently and demanded that the project be halted immediately as Tamil Nadu did not have the approval of the Centre.
BJP leader and former Union Minister Ananth Kumar told media persons that Hognekal was very much a part of Karnataka and the project undertaken by Tamil Nadu was illegal. He also said that the BJP was the first party to raise this issue in Parliament.
Even as the JD-S and BJP gear up to make this an election issue, the Congress is treading carefully in Karnataka. Congress insiders told rediff.com that the attack against Tamil Nadu will have to be planned carefully as there is every chance of the issue boomeranging on them as the DMK is a Congress ally at the Centre.
Even as political parties scramble over the issue, the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, which has gone on a rampage against Tamils in Karnataka, says that the issue will be fought till the very end. Several members of the Vedike are planning to contest the polls this year and they feel that this would be the best to sky-rocket them into the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.
The members of the Vedike have planned a rally in Bengaluru on Tuesday and will urge the people of Karnataka to boycott Tamil films, channels and everything else related to the state of Tamil Nadu.