Cauvery issue: Karnataka to challenge panel order in SC, may soon declare drought

The State government has convened a Cabinet sub-committee meeting on 28 September to review the impact of drought in the wake of weak southwest monsoon. Karnataka would challenge the Cauvery Supervisory Committee's Monday order to release more water to Tamil Nadu in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, said state Home Minister G Parameshwara.

"As the committee's order to release 3,000 cusecs daily for 10 days from 21-30 September is disappointing and a blow to our interests, we have decided to challenge it in the Supreme Court on Tuesday," Parameshwara told reporters in Bengaluru.

A file image of the Cauvery river. Reuters

A file image of the Cauvery river. Reuters

The panel's order comes into force after the state would complete releasing 12,000 cusecs daily on Tuesday as per the apex court's 12 September order, which is a modification of its 5 September directive to release 15,000 cusecs daily for 10 days from 7 September.

This comes at a time when the state is contemplating declaring drought after nearly two months of dry spell.

At least 150 villages in the state have already qualified as drought affected, with more being added, an undisclosed source told Livemint.

A cabinet sub-committee is expected to make an official announcement next week, the report says.

The move would make Karnataka the first state to declare drought this year.

The monsoon, on its last legs, has been 5 percent below normal, and despite the rains being predicted to be surplus in most parts of the country, many parts received less than ample amount of showers, reports Hindustan Times. At least three states – Kerala, Karnataka and Gujarat – are battling drought-like conditions in some districts.

Revenue Minister Kagodu Thimmappa told media persons that the situation was “alarming”, reports The Hindu.

"Our state is repeatedly facing injustice. The chief minister and the cabinet will decide the next course of action after Tuesday's hearing in the apex court. We will plead for relief as we are not in a position to release more water due to distress and have just enough to meet for drinking water till June next," said Paremeshwara.

The panel's directive came earlier in the day after the two warring states failed to reach a consensus on the quantum of water to be shared during distress due to deficit rains and lower levels in the four reservoirs across the river basin this year.

State water resources department officials, however, said as 3,000-5,000 cusecs flow daily to Biligundlu on the inter-state border where the release is measured, owing to gravity, groundwater and downstream, additional water may not have to be released from the depleted reservoirs of Kabini, KRS, Haranghi and Hemavathy.

The panel's order sparked protests in the region, especially at Mandya, about 100km from here, by farmers and traders, which led to the blocking of vehicular traffic between Bengaluru and Mysuru.

"We have intensified security and stepped up vigil to prevent any untoward incident in the wake of the panel's order and the hearing in the Supreme Court on Tuesday," the minister said after a meeting with the top police brass in the presence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Police also banned the sale of liquor and opening of bars, wine shops and pubs on Tuesday in and around the city.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 20, 2016 13:42 PM

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