Congress against Cauvery water release to Tamil Nadu

Belgaum (Karnataka), Dec 6: The Congress’s Karnataka unit Thursday opposed release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu in spite of the Supreme Court’s directive to the state to do so.

“It might be contempt of court but the government should not release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu,” Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president G. Parameshwara told reporters in this north Karnataka town, about 500 km from Bangalore.

Parameshwara and all other state legislators are here for the winter session of the legislature that began Wednesday.

The Congress’s firm stand against obeying the apex court directive came even as protests continued for the second day in Cauvery belt in southern Karnataka.

Vehicular movement between Bangalore and Mysore, 130 km apart, was disrupted for several hours as farmers and Kannada activists blocked the state highway in Mandya district, about 80 km from Karnataka capital.

Mandya, a sugar and paddy belt, is the hotbed of agitation if Cauvery water is to be released to Tamil Nadu whenever Karnataka is affected by drought, like this year.

The Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir, from where the water is released to the neighbouring state, is in Mandya district, though it is located just 25 km from Mysore.

A tense situation at KRS was avoided Thursday as a farmers’ group dropped plan to lay siege to the reservoir following Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar’s assurance that his government would seek a review of the apex court’s Wednesday’s directive.

Former Congress minister and head of the ‘Cauvery Hitarakshana Samiti’ (Committee to protect interests of Cauvery belt farmers in Karnataka) G. Made Gowda told reporters in Mandya that siege plan had been put off for the time being.

“If water is release, then we have no other option but to lay siege to prevent it,” he said.

The water issue figured in the assembly also for the second day with Congress demanding a commitment by the Bharatiya Janata Party government that it will not release the water.

The state government is likely to petition the Cauvery Monitoring Committee, which is expected to meet in New Delhi Friday, to review the apex court’s Wednesday’s directive that Karnataka should daily release 10,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu till Sunday.

The apex court had said Wednesday that the CMC should meet Thursday or Friday to decide on the quantum of water required by the two states.

Tamil Nadu has been demanding at least 30TMC feet (thousand million cubic feet) water to save standing paddy crops in its Cauvery belt.

Parameshwara said a state Congress delegation would soon meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi to brief about the precarious situation Karnataka is facing following the failure of monsoon.

IANS