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Cauvery waters talk collapse

The talks between the chief ministers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to resolve the Cauvery waters issue broke down on Sunday. Tamil Nadu decided to refer the issue to the Cauvery Waters Disputes Tribunal even as Karnataka stuck to its earlier stand to boycott the tribunal.

Announcing the failure of the talks after a three-hour long meeting, the fifth in the series, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said the talks could not lead to any agreement on wider areas and "it was felt it was best to leave it to be settled by the adjudicatory process in progress in the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal."

Karnataka Chief Minister J H Patel told reporters at his hotel that the state would stand by its assembly and cabinet decisions to boycott the tribunal and report the position to the prime minister and the Supreme Court under whose decision the talks were held.

Karunanidhi assured farmers that the standing samba and thaladi crops would be protected until the harvest and declared that there would be no more talks with Karnataka.

Patel, on the other hand, said his state believed that bilateral discussions was the best option to resolve the dispute.

"If we were to go to the tribunal why should we waste our time in bilateral talks?" he asked.

"We will consult legal experts and proceed in the matter," Patel said when a reporter asked him about the legality of boycotting the tribunal.

While Karunanidhi in a prepared statement read out to reporters did not go into the details of disagreement between the two states, Patel was forthright in saying the issue discussed was not so much of water in terms of tmc but percentage of available water.

He smiled away when asked how much Tamil Nadu wanted and how much Karnataka was prepared to give.

Patel said he stood by the Supreme Court decision in the matter. The Supreme Court had asked the two states to hold talks to arrive at an interim arrangement to save the kuruvai crop in July 1996.

Patel conceded that the five rounds of talks were held on the premise of the interim award which stipulated release of 205 tmc of Cauvery water by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu a year under a given schedule.

The breakdown of talks came as an anti-climax since both sides had expressed optimism about the talks.

Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka assembly, demanded that Patel should convene an emergency session of the state legislature to discuss the failure of the Cauvery water issue.

Kharge said the state government had all along kept the Opposition parties in the dark during the talks on the issue.

Century-old Cauvery waters dispute remains in limbo


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