Karnataka to Tamil Nadu: Not a drop of water


The Cauvery talks betwe­en Tamil Nadu chief mini­s­ter Jayalalithaa and her Kar­n­a­taka counterpa­rt Jagadi­sh­ Shettar colla­p­s­ed in less than an hour at a Benga­l­uru hotel on Thursday.

Presenting the precario­us situation in the delta re­g­ion, Ms Jayalalithaa pu­s­hed for immediate rel­ease of “a bare minimum” of 30 tmcft of Cauvery water in the next 15 days to save the samba (long-term) crops. Mr Shettar’s response was, “not a drop of water”.

Responding positively to the SC directive that the two neighbours could neg­o­­t­iate a settlement for the long-drawn Cauvery disp­u­te, Ms Jayalalithaa led her delegation to meet the Ka­r­n­ataka CM hoping for succ­o­ur for her farmers. She even began her spee­ch in Ka­n­nada to exhibit her wa­r­mth but all the effort se­e­m­ed to have gone in waste.

Emerging from the 40-mi­nute meeting, she told the media that she had ex­p­lai­n­ed to Mr Shettar the­re wou­ld be ‘calamity’ for TN fa­r­mers as the standi­ng crops would wither if he did not order release of water. “But despite all our pleadings, the Karnataka government was firm in saying that it co­uld not re­lease even a si­ngle drop of water.”

The SC, she recalled, had as­ked the two states to ne­g­o­tiate in a ‘give-and-take’ ma­nner. “When they are not­ willing to give, how can we take?” she quipp­ed, visi­bly distressed that the talks failed despite her honest attempts to get Mr Shettar to see reason and act fairly.

“I asked Karnataka chief minister, you cannot say you cannot release any wa­­t­er at all. We have ask­ed for 30 tmcft, please tell us what you can release, name a figure,” she said, ad­ding Shettar and his irr­i­gation minister kept rep­e­ating that they could not release any water at all.

“So we will go back to SC tomorrow and inform it about the outcome of tod­ay’s meeting,” she said.

Predictably, there was wi­­despread indignation in TN at the Bengaluru debacle as many felt that Mr Sh­ettar had insulted his gu­est. “It was obvious that the BJP CM was only int­e­r­ested in protecting his vote-bank for the state ele­c­tions happening early next year,” said a senior TN official.

“If he had dec­i­ded not to give us even a drop of wa­t­er, why call us and ins­u­lt us? Why did they (Kar­n­a­taka) not info­rm the SC they had nothi­ng to discu­ss when the co­urt suggested talks?”

The case is coming up be­f­o­re the SC on Fr­iday.

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