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Release 5K Cusecs of Water a Day to Tamil Nadu, Panel Tells Karnataka

Amid the ongoing water-sharing dispute, the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) on Tuesday asked the Karnataka government to release 5,000 cusecs of water per day to Tamil Nadu till September 28, officials familiar with the matter said. This decision mirrored a similar order issued by the authority on August 28, to which the state government had submitted a compliance report. 

The CWRC convened a meeting on Tuesday, attended by officials from both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. After considering inputs from both parties and evaluating the on-ground circumstances, the committee issued a renewed mandate for Karnataka to allocate additional water to Tamil Nadu.

On August 28, despite resistance from Karnataka, the CWRC had mandated the state to release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for a 15-day period. The Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) had subsequently upheld this decision. 

In response to these directives, farmer’s unions in Karnataka had organise numerous protests in Srirangapatna on August 30, urging the state government to cease the water release immediately. 

Responding to the CWRC decision, Karnataka deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar, on Tuesday said the state had already released the maximum available water to Tamil Nadu and said the state needs to preserve water for drinking purposes. “Whatever water is there, we have released. We have to store it for drinking water. Without storing the water for drinking, it will be very difficult,” he said. “I’m making it clear that we don’t have water. They [CWRC] have issued 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 [high committee]. The chief minister [Siddaramaiah] and I discussed the matter in the morning [Tuesday] and we have told our officials that we will not be able to release water,” Shivakumar told reporters. 

He further explained that discussion with Delhi-based legal experts is underway and added that it is a priority to reserve water for drinking purpose. “Tonight and tomorrow morning we will discuss with our Delhi-based 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 said. 

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 chief minister said, “I can only say, it is very difficult to release water.” 

When asked whether the Cauvery bodies are unable to understand the ground situation, Shivakumar said, “They can come to the state and see the situation on the ground for themselves.” 

Regarding concerns about a potential legal battle, Shivakumar appealed for cooperation from the people and opposition parties to safeguard the state’s interests. When asked if he suspected political motives behind the water release orders, he refrained from making accusations, acknowledging the responsibility of the committees involved. 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.”