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Tamil Nadu CM Stalin writes to PM Modi to tell Karnataka to release water

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Friday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s direct intervention to make Karnataka release water from the Kaveri river and also instruct the Jal Shakti Ministry to take appropriate action to ensure the same.

In a letter to Modi, Stalin said the due share of water was crucial for the standing Kuruvai, a key crop for farmers at the Kaveri delta, and Karnataka had not relented in releasing the supply despite him raising the matter with the Jal Shakti ministry twice last month.

In the letter, Stalin further said the available water in his state can support the Kuruvai for another 15 days only. Water is required for another 45 days for maturity and optimum yield, he added. “I wish to draw your kind attention to the grim scenario faced by the farmers of Cauvery delta in saving their Kuruvai paddy crop and request your immediate intervention to instruct Karnataka to release our due share of Cauvery water,” he said.

“In the current scenario wherein the Union Government has already banned the export of non-Basmati rice due to emerging concerns of rice shortage, it is all the more important that the current Kuruvai paddy crop in Cauvery delta and the livelihood of our farmers are saved by your urgent intervention,” he added.

MK Stalin said that the top court had fixed the share of water to be delivered by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu at Biligundlu, on the inter-state border, as per the monthly schedule. Unfortunately, Karnataka is not honouring the order in letter and spirit and not adhering to the directions of Cauvery Water Management Authority, he said.

The Chief Minister also said the Karnataka government has released only 11.6 TMC of water, as against 40.4 TMC due at Biligundlu, between June 1 and July 31. “Such a huge shortfall of 28.8 TMC has been thrust on Tamil Nadu, even while Karnataka has a gross storage of 91 TMC in its four major reservoirs, against their full storage capacity of 114.6 TMC,” he said.

“On the other hand, the storage position in the Mettur Reservoir has only 26.6 TMC as on 2 August, 2023. After provisioning for drinking water and other essential needs, the available water can support the standing Kuruvai (short-term) crop for only 15 days more, whereas it needs water for another 45 days for maturity and optimum yield,” he added.

The Chief Minister said that his government “had taken up the issue with the Union Minister for Jal Shakti on 5 July 2023 and 19 July 2023, urging him to advise Karnataka to adhere to the schedule of delivery fixed by the Supreme Court and to instruct the CWMA to monitor the same”.

“Karnataka, however, has not relented and except for the runoff from the fully filled Kabini reservoir, no water has been released from its major reservoirs which are 80 per cent full and continue to receive good inflows,” he said. Stalin urged the Prime Minister to ensure Karnataka cleared the shortfall incurred in June and July. “I also request you to instruct the Ministry of Jal Shakthi to take appropriate action for ensuring the same,” he said.

Stalin’s letter to Modi comes amidst criticism from the opposition in the past for failing to solve the problem with the Karnataka government, which is currently ruled by Congress which is a principle ally of the DMK.

Karnataka deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar told reporters in Delhi that the state government has consulted legal experts on the matter. “I have held discussions with legal experts regarding the Cauvery issue, but a final decision is yet to be reached. The issues will be discussed with the chief minister (Siddaramaiah) and in the state cabinet meeting, and further directions will be provided. The government is committed to resolving all issues on a priority basis,” he said.

On February 16, 2018, the Supreme Court gave its final verdict in the Cauvery dispute where it declared the Cauvery a national asset and largely upheld the water-sharing arrangements finalised by the CWDT and also reduced the allocation of water from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu. As per the SC, Karnataka would get 284.75 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft), Tamil Nadu 404.25 tmcft, Kerala 30 tmcft and Puducherry 7 tmcft.

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