Bengaluru: The handling of the Cauvery dispute by the Congress government in Karnataka is likely to prove to be a setback for it. The party, on cloud nine following the implementation of its guarantee schemes one after the other, is facing a backlash in the Cauvery catchment area in the south Karnataka region.
While the water year 2023-24 turned out to be a difficult year due to the failure of the southwest monsoon in the Cauvery Valley region of Karnataka and Kerala, the state government has a tough job on hand in the coming days.
Because of the shortage of water storage in reservoirs, ensuring a seamless supply of drinking water to the IT capital Bengaluru city in the coming days is going to be a big challenge.
At the same time, not bothering to invite the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to the all-party meeting held in this regard by the Congress government is likely to affect the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) as the AAP central leadership is taking the issue seriously.
The south Karnataka region, especially Mandya, Mysuru, Chamarajanagara and Hassan districts, which are also known as Vokkaliga heartlands, elected Congress candidates over the JD (S) as Dy CM D.K. Shivakumar was projected as the face of the party after 30 years by the Congress party. The soft stand over the water dispute and delayed response by the Congress government has angered the people.
Shivakumar who also handles the water resources ministry and is known for aggression, surprisingly adopted a defensive stand. Even after the failure of the monsoon in the Cauvery catchment area, the Karnataka government remained napping and only woke up after Tamil Nadu approached the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) for the release of water for its standing Kuruvai crop.
Even as Tamil Nadu’s representatives walked out of the meeting refusing to settle for the order and succeeded in filing a petition before the Supreme Court and getting a three-judge bench constituted, Karnataka hastily convened an all-party meeting at a later stage and filed an affidavit against Tamil Nadu much later.
Experts opine that Karnataka which has released the water so far, will most likely have to release more water once the Supreme Court bench gives its order.
The decision of the Congress government not to respond to the letter written by the AAP Karnataka unit president Mukhyamantri Chandru offering legal assistance to the government and not inviting the AAP for the all-party meeting is likely to cost it dearly.
Supreme Court advocate and president of the AAP’s communication wing Brijesh Kalappa told IANS that the Karnataka government has not bothered to take the AAP’s opinion. They have not invited it to the all-party meetings on the Cauvery dispute. “AAP is a national political party and we were fully prepared to give our opinion. It is negligence and they are not serious.”
“Ours is a national party which wrote a letter and you don’t bother to respond. It seems they don’t want our opinion. In INDIA, we are their alliance partner and what should we do if they don’t care to invite us? Naturally, our central leadership will take the development seriously. This is wilful negligence.”
When asked about the Congress government and Shivakumar emphasising on the Mekedatu project as a permanent solution to the issue, Kalappa stated that the Mekedatu project is not for now. It is a project which will come in the next 15 to 20 years. “We feel the situation could have been handled better by the state,” he said.
Shivakumar had said that the state was directed to release 10,000 cusecs of water from the Cauvery till August 31. “Our requirement is 124 tmc of water. However, only 55 tmc of water is available. Bengaluru city requires 24 tmc for drinking water purposes.”
“Mysuru, Mandya and Ramanagara require 20 tmc of water. The state reservoirs KRS has 22 tmc, Kabini 6.5 tmc, Harangi 7 tmc and Hemavathi 20 tmc of water storage. There is no water available with the state to release to Tamil Nadu. For the sake of the standing crops and the farmers the water has been released two times,” Shivakumar stated.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said that he would take an all-party delegation to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ask him to intervene and resolve the Mekedatu, Kaveri, Mahadayi, and Krishna issues.
Officials representing the state in the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee and Authority have voiced concern about the difficulties and the ground realities in the state. This year there was a rainfall deficit in June and August. So far 86.38 tmc of water has to be released. But till the 20th, only 24 tmc water has been released.