Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday hit out at the BJP-led government at the Centre, alleging delay in giving approval to the construction of the Mekedatu balancing reservoir over river Cauvery, and accused neighbouring Tamil Nadu of causing ”unnecessary nuisance” on the issue.
Karnataka has been pressing for the implementation of the Mekedatu project, saying it is the only solution for the Cauvery water dispute between the two states during times of rainfall distress.
”The BJP government at the Centre has not given permission for the Mekedatu project. Tamil Nadu has no reasons to oppose the project. It is in our territory, 177.25 TMC water has been allocated to Tamil Nadu and we have to release that much water to them in the normal years. And during distress time, the distress formula should be followed,” Siddaramaiah said.
Speaking to reporters here, he accused Tamil Nadu of unnecessarily creating nuisance regarding the Mekedatu project, and said that despite Karnataka submitting a DPR (Detailed Project Report), permission is not being given.
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”They (Centre) have to tell the Cauvery Water Management Authority (to grant permissions), as it comes under the Government of India, but they are not doing it,” he said, adding that BJP state leaders at the all party meeting said they would not do politics on the issue but they ”come here and do politics”.
The chief minister was responding to a question on BJP’s criticism of his government for releasing Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu, despite the river basin region in the state facing the threat of water scarcity due to deficit rainfall.
Pointing out that Karnataka was not releasing water to Tamil Nadu with joy but because of the CWMA order, Siddaramaiah said the government is duty-bound to protect the interest of the state’s farmers, and drinking water needs of Mysuru, Bengaluru, and several other districts.
”In water policy, drinking water is the first priority and we have to protect the crops. Because the Authority asked water to be released, we have released water. They (TN) have approached the Supreme Court, but it has not issued any orders,” he said, pointing that the case is coming up before the apex court on September 21, where the state will place the factual position. On September 12, the state will put forward its position before the CWMA as well, he said.
The government would not do politics at any cost, and would not compromise the interest of the state and its farmers, he added.
Tamil Nadu approached the Supreme Court earlier recently with a plea to direct Karnataka to release 24,000 cusecs of Cauvery water daily for standing crops.
Citing scarcity due to deficit monsoon rains, Karnataka has been maintaining that it will be able to release water to Tamil Nadu only after taking into account its needs like drinking water and standing crops, in the Cauvery basin areas.
Noting that till August-end 86 TMC water had to be released to Tamil Nadu, the CM said, ”We have not released even half of it,” as he hit out at the BJP for its criticism over releasing water.
”BJP has 25 MPs; when have they staged agitation in the parliament for the state?” he questioned, adding that his letter to the Centre requesting an appointment to lead an all-party delegation, has not got any response from the Prime Minister yet.
”Let state BJP leaders get the appointment, let them speak to the PM. They won’t get us an appointment, neither will they go and speak to him,” he charged.