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August 3, 1998


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TN all-party meeting authorises Karunanidhi to represent state at Cauvery meet

The all-party meeting convened by the Tamil Nadu government today authorised Chief Minister M Karunanidhi to participate in the August 6 meeting of chief ministers of riparian states convened by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee to discuss the vexed Cauvery water issue.

The meeting, which adopted an unanimous resolution to this effect, said the chief minister could take suitable steps to finalise the draft scheme prepared by the Centre and get it notified to ensure the implementation of the interim award of the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal.

The resolution pointed out that the August 6 meeting was only a continuation of the ongoing judicial process in the Supreme Court where the Tamil Nadu government had filed a special leave petition seeking the implementation of the interim award.

The meeting, which had a marathon six-hour discussion on the issue, was attended by 41 political parties, including the All India Anna DMK and its allies.

Official sources said Karunanidhi was likely to leave for Delhi tomorrow evening or Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Karnataka has rejected even the modifications suggested by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government to the draft scheme for the implementation of the tribunal's interim award, asking the state to release 205 tmc ft of water to Tamil Nadu.

Talking to newsmen in Bangalore last night, state Law Minister M C Nanaiah said the modified scheme had included certain clauses such as stoppage of modernisation of existing canals in the Cauvery basin, which was not acceptable to the state.

The state's stand was discussed at a high level meeting in which former prime minister H D Deve Gowda and Chief Minister J H Patel also participated.

Terming the modified scheme as "atrocious", Nanaiah said the original clause which provided for takeover of the reservoirs by the regulatory authority in the event of the order not being implemented, had been dropped following suggestion from the state.

The state cabinet had discussed the modifications on Saturday and had rejected it.

He said the state did not favour setting up of a Cauvery Valley Authority and posting of field officials in the reservoirs to oversee the water release. Instead it had suggested establishment of a coordination committee comprising experts drawn from other than basin states and the Centre to monitor the implementation of the interim award.

The suggestion for setting up of a review committee consisting of chief ministers of the basin states and the central water resources minister was also not clear as it did not envisage any solution in the event of some minister rejecting a decision.

Nanaiah said the state, which firmed up its stand on the issue, would not budge from the modifications suggested by it to the draft scheme. State Chief Secretary B K Bhattacharya, who will attend the meeting convened by the Cabinet secretary on August 4, would reaffirm the state's stand.

He said the state favoured any scheme which was within the purview of the 1991 interim order and the subsequent clarificatory orders of the tribunal made in 1992 and in 1995. In the event of any distress year, the states could refer back to the tribunal instead of an authority monitoring the release, he added.

On restrictions imposed in not extending the irrigation potential in the basin area, Nanaiah said as against the potential of 2.2 million acres, the state had created irrigation facilities for 1.12 million acres while Tamil Nadu was irrigating 2.8 million acres. The state had been too liberal in releasing water and had been exploited all along. It would not approve any scheme or order that would affect the interests of the farmers in the state.

He said the state's position on the draft scheme was finalised after a three-day meeting with leaders of various parties. Patel would review the issue again with the state MPs, and floor leaders of the state legislature at New Delhi on August 5 before the chief ministers meeting convened by Vajpayee the next day.

Nanaiah, major and medium irrigation minister K N Nage Gowda, Deputy chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Transport Minister P G R Sindhia and the chief secretary were among those who attended the meeting.

On Saturday, the Karnataka cabinet felt that the onus of resolving the long pending Cauvery water dispute between the state and Tamil Nadu, lay on the prime minister and a solution based on reality and not on political considerations should be found.

Nanaiah said the state's stand on the issue was very clear and it did not want the issue to be solved politically. "We have released water to Tamil Nadu people whenever they were in crisis," he pointed out.

He said Karnataka believed in a give and take policy in an atmosphere of cordiality. If the interim award was not based on scientific facts, it could not be accepted, he added. The state had already rejected the interim award which said that 205 tmc ft water should be released to Tamil Nadu.

Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka legislative council, H K Patil has said the Centre's draft scheme on the Cauvery issue should be rejected in toto as it was pro-Tamil Nadu.

Talking to newsmen in Hubli, he said minor changes introduced in the scheme recently would not benefit Karnataka.

He urged Patel to ask the state chief secretary not to discuss the Centre's latest draft scheme at the August 4 meeting in New Delhi. If the draft scheme was discussed it would have a bearing on the chief ministers' meeting to be held on August 6.

The dispute could be resolved only through talks, he added.


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