|HOME | NEWS | INTERVIEW|
|November 3, 2002||
The Rediff Interview/H K Patil
The growing feeling that Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna defied the Supreme Court by not obeying immediately its direction to release water from the Cauvery river to Tamil Nadu has elicited a strong rebuttal from the political leadership of the state.
At a recent press conference in Delhi, state Water Resources Minister H K Patil ridiculed any such notion, emphasising that Karnataka had the highest respect for the apex court and said the release of Cauvery waters to the neighbouring state was contingent on a combination of factors.
In an interview with Tara Shankar Sahay, Patil explained the Karnataka government's position on the dispute. Excerpts:
There is this growing feeling that Karnataka defied the Supreme Court's direction. If Jammu & Kashmir were to defy the Supreme Court, or even Parliament, tomorrow, what would happen to Indian democracy?
First and foremost, let me strongly rebut this erroneous notion that our state in any way defied the apex court. Karnataka is a law-abiding state. We had absolutely no intention of disobeying the honourable court. A malicious propaganda is being spread by vested interests.
What do you mean by "vested interests"?
I think you are quite capable of finding out yourself. That is why we have taken a position to clarify our stand and also explain the history to those who want to know about the genesis of the Cauvery dispute.
Do you agree with the view that the Cauvery water dispute between the two states has become a political football with both shirking their respective responsibility on water-sharing and conveniently kicking it back to the Supreme Court?
Let's get things in perspective. Karnataka has not been the party to approach the honourable court in the dispute. It was Tamil Nadu that approached it many times for the purpose of litigation. Our chief minister, ever since he assumed office, has been consistently appealing to all parties in the dispute that washing our dirty linen in public will not help and that an amicable solution to all must be found through cool-headed talks, not by rushing to court.
It is unfortunate that the other party has preferred the other [confrontationist] option.
What about the National Water Policy?
Of course, it is there, but there are no guidelines [for inter-state water disputes].
But doesn't Karnataka have equal responsibility in ensuring that an amicable solution is found to the dispute and that it should be done expeditiously to prevent similar washing of dirty linen in public?
You see, realising the political sensitivity of the problem, the Supreme Court is again and again asking the prime minister and the CRA [Cauvery River Authority] to find a solution. Since it has not been found, it is going back to the apex court.
In the case of the contempt petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government, at a political level, leaders, of whatever state they belong to, should not try to provoke the people across the [inter-state] border. If they do so, then it becomes very difficult for a particular state government to enforce the court's order, even if it wants to enforce it. If everybody maintains some cool, I am sure an amicable solution will emerge.
Do you think a solution could come about if our rivers were nationalised?
We don't believe in the nationalisation of rivers.
In view of the perception that Karnataka is stonewalling an amicable solution to the dispute, what will your state government tell the apex court?
The Karnataka government's stand, given the ground realities of the situation, is fully justified and we are confident that the honourable court will be convinced by what we have to say.
Are you prepared for a comparison between the Cauvery water dispute because of your state government's position and the Ram temple dispute in Ayodhya?
These two issues are not comparable at all. We have not flouted, violated, or disregarded the order of the Supreme Court and we have cogently cited our reasons for our state government's stand on the issue.
Could you put Karnataka's grievance in a nutshell?
If we say that a historical wrong was done to our state, we cannot be wrong. The princely state of Mysore had to surrender its legitimate and equitable share in the waters of the Cauvery because of its subordinate position as a vassal state. The background is that the secretary of state in England exercised his undefined paramountcy, an extra-legal power, to the detriment of Mysore.
Also, the so-called agreements of 1892 and 1924, which Tamil Nadu is seeking to enforce, forced Mysore to part with more than 80 per cent of the natural flows of the Cauvery to the Madras Presidency. Under these outdated agreements, Tamil Nadu by 1974 had illegally developed irrigation of up to 28 lakh acres while suppressing Karnataka to about 6.8 lakh acres in the Cauvery basin.
I can go on and on. I think there is no parallel to this kind of unjust and illegal water-sharing regime anywhere in the world.
Image: Rahil Shaikh
|Tell us what you think of this interview|
HOME | NEWS | CRICKET | MONEY | SPORTS | MOVIES | CHAT | BROADBAND | TRAVEL
ASTROLOGY | NEWSLINKS | BOOK SHOP | MUSIC SHOP | GIFT SHOP | HOTEL BOOKINGS
AIR/RAIL | WEDDING | ROMANCE | WEATHER | WOMEN | TRAVEL | E-CARDS | SEARCH
HOMEPAGES | FREE MESSENGER | FREE EMAIL | CONTESTS | FEEDBACK