Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister D K Shivakumar on Tuesday said that the state is in no position to release Cauvery river water to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, as it doesn't have enough water storage, due to lack of adequate rainfall in the river basin region.
This statement from Shivakumar, who is also the Water Resources Minister, came after Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) today recommended that Karnataka release 5,000 cusecs of water every day for the next 15 days to Tamil Nadu.
"I'm making it clear that we don't have water. They (CWRC) have given the order (recommendation), tomorrow the matter is going before the higher committee -- Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA), where our Secretary will be there, he is a member of it. The Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) and I discussed the matter in the morning and we have told our officials that we will not be able to release water," Shivakumar told reporters in Bengaluru.
Reacting to CWRC recommendation, he said, "Tamil Nadu is said to have demanded 12,500 cusecs, and the CWRC recommendarion is for 5,000 cusecs, "but as of now there is no water."
"Tonight and tomorrow morning we will discuss with our Delhi legal experts...we have to save the water for drinking. Farmer's situation comes next, drinking water is the priority now. So, we will inform the Authority that it will be very difficult for us," he added.
Noting that the Supreme Court has already told both the states that it will not interfere in the matter and let the technical committees decide, the Deputy CM in response to a question said that, "I can only say, it is very difficult to release water."
Asked as to whether the twin Cauvery bodies are unable to understand the ground situation, he said, "We have stated our position with facts today, and will do it tomorrow also...they can come to the state and see the situation on the ground for themselves."
To a question whether the situation will lead to legal battle, Shivakumar sought the cooperation of the people and opposition parties to protect the interest of the state.
Asked if he suspect politics behind the orders to release water, he said, "No, I cannot accuse those committees of politics, being in a responsible position. They are sitting in the judge's position. Central government officials, representatives of both states and other states are part of it."
The CWMA had earlier directed Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs water daily to Tamil Nadu for the next 15 days from August 29, based on the recommendation of the CWRC.
Earlier in the day, Shivakumar had said that currently Cauvery water is not flowing to Tamil Nadu from the state, and Karnataka officials at the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) will make a plea to at least to save water for drinking.
Tamil Nadu has also approached the Supreme Court with a plea to direct Karnataka to release Cauvery water for the standing crops.
According to sources, the case may come up before Supreme Court next week.
Meanwhile, Karnataka BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel has asked the state government not to release water to Tamil Nadu at any cost, and the party will stand with the government in its legal battle on the issue.
"We request the state government and the chief minister -- there is no water in the state for farmers, there is drought situation, there is also shortage of drinking water -- in such a situation water should not be released at any cost. We should file an appeal in the Supreme Court and fight. We are with the government," he said, adding that, it is the duty of the government to protect the state's interest.