Bangalore, Sep 28: Karnataka faces tense days ahead as the Supreme Court Friday directed the state to release 9,000 cusecs of Cauvery river water everyday to Tamil Nadu. Protests erupted in parts of the state against the court decision.
Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who was in Surajkund in Haryana for a BJP national executive meeting, met leading lawyers in New Delhi Friday evening to explore possibility of approaching the apex court to review its order.
He told reporters in New Delhi that he has convened an all-party meeting in Bangalore Saturday to discuss the implications of the apex court directive, which came after Karnataka rejected the Sep 19 decision of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to release the water till Oct 15.
Shettar said his government was “committed to protecting the interest of people of the state”.
Besides the ruling BJP, main opposition parties Congress and Janata Dal-Secular have also been opposing release of water in view of the severe drought in the state.
They are backing the state government stand and pledged support to it in the legal and political battles to protect the interests of the state people.
Shettar sought the advice of senior counsel Fali S. Nariman, who has been arguing Karnataka’s case in the Cauvery river water sharing dispute, on the course open to the state.
Karnataka has been rejecting Tamil Nadu’s demand for Cauvery water on the ground that the state is suffering its worst drought in 40 years and there was not enough water in the reservoirs built across Cauvery river and its tributaries in the state.
Shettar had walked out of the Sep 19 meeting of the Cauvery River Authority headed by the prime minister protesting the ruling that Karnataka should release 9,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu from Sep 20 to Oct 15, by when the neighbouring state would get north-east monsoon rains.
Within hours of the Supreme Court directive, farmers and Kannada organisations in Mandya district, about 80 km from Bangalore and the centre of Cauvery water stir, hit the streets opposing the decision.
Farmers’ leaders have threatened to stop Cauvery water flow to Bangalore if water is released to Tamil Nadu. Bangalore, with a population of over eight million, is heavily dependent on water from the Cauvery river. It gets over 900 million litres daily out of its requirement of around 1,350 million litres daily.
Farmers and Kannada activists under the banner of Cauvery Hitarakshana Samithi (Forum to protect Karnataka’s interests) held up traffic for a few hours in Mandya and its major towns of Maddur and Srirangapatna.
Samithi president G. Madegowda told reporters in Mandya that farmers would lay siege to KRS (Krishna Raja Sagar) reservoir in Mandya to prevent water release.
Protests hit Bangalore too late Friday with members of a Kannada organisation trying to lay siege to chief minister’ official residence in the centre of the city. The attempt was foiled by the police.