In a move that may set the state on a collision course with the judiciary, a special session of both Houses of Karnataka legislature will be held on Friday to take a call on the Supreme Court's direction to the state to release 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water per day to Tamil Nadu. Ahead of the session, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah met Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti in Delhi on Thursday, a day after the cabinet decided to defer the release of water and convene the legislature session amid escalating row between the two neighbouring states.
Apprising the Union Minister of the ground realities on its inability in implementing the Apex Court order, the chief minister requested the Union Government to file an objection against the court's direction to constitute Cauvery Water Management Board.
"It is difficult for us to release water, already as per the Supreme Court order we have released 12,000 cusecs for 14 days. There is no water in our reservoirs. What is remaining in four reservoirs is only 26 TMC water,whereas we need 27 TMC to supply drinking water to Mandya, Mysuru, Bengaluru and nearby areas," he told reporters in Delhi after meeting Bharti.
Pointing out that Tamil Nadu is seeking water for irrigation and the Mettur reservoir there has storage of 52 TMC water, he said "I have explained all this to the Minister."
Noting that the Apex Court had also asked the Centre to constitute the Cauvery Management Board, he said "it was uncalled for, neither us nor they (Tamil Nadu) had made a prayer for it.
"I have requested that Solicitor General or Additional Solicitor General who represents government of India file an objection for it on 27 September."
The Cauvery Supervisory Committee had on 19 September asked Karnataka to release 3,000 cusecs per day from 21 to 30 September, but the Apex Court had on 20 September doubled the quantum to 6,000 cusecs from 21 to 27 September after Tamil Nadu pressed for water to save its samba paddy crop.
It had also directed the Centre to constitute within four weeks the Cauvery Water Management Board as directed by Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in its award. On Thursday Siddaramaiah also met Governor Vajubhai Vala and former Chief Minister S M Krishna ahead of his visit to Delhi.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Krishna said he "whole heartedly" congratulated Siddaramaiah and his cabinet for the stand they had taken, keeping the people's interest in mind.
He said "government has taken a decision and we are all with it, completely." Stating that Krishna has supported government's decision, Siddaramaiah said he had also met the Governor and apprised him about the legislature session on Friday and developments so far after the Supreme Court order.
The Karnataka cabinet had last night decided to defer release of 6,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu till 23 September when a special session of the state legislature would take a decision on the Apex Court direction.
It had also requested the Governor to call a session of both the Houses of the legislature on 23 September at 11 am.
Meanwhile, principal opposition party BJP, which had boycotted Wednesday's all party meeting called by the Chief Minister to discuss the Cauvery issue, said it welcomes the government's move.
"BJP welcomes the cabinet decision deferring the release of water to Tamil Nadu. We had also repeatedly said that the legislature was the most appropriate forum to discuss such issues. The cabinet decision to convene an emergency session is also a welcome move," BJP President Yeddyurappa said in a statement.
"BJP is committed for the welfare and interest of the people. We will not allow any injustice to be perpetrated on
Karnataka," he added.