Bland offer

By Karnataka on Cauvery

By E Vijayalakshmi
Published: Monday 15 September 2003

on august 7 the Karnataka state cabinet gave a fresh twist to the Cauvery controversy, when it decided to propose that the river's water be shared with Tamil Nadu (tn) only for drinking purposes. The ludicrousness of the plan can be gauged from the fact that almost 95 per cent of Cauvery's water is used for irrigation and another 3 per cent is consumed by industries.

An official of Karnataka's irrigation department concedes that such an arrangement is not workable. It is also ironical that the state is not practising what it is preaching. For, despite its resolve, the Karnataka government is releasing water for agricultural use in the Cauvery delta. A former irrigation consultant to the state government points out, "The authorities have also opened the Krishnarajasagar and Kabini reservoirs to convince the Centre and tn that there is no water in Cauvery river."

The state government may actually have employed this ruse to project a bleak picture during the meetings (on August 8 and August 18) of the Cauvery technical committee. Even as talks floundered on the issue of water measuring centres, Karnataka was reportedly ready to oppose the Union government if it was asked to release water for purposes other than drinking.

Meanwhile, former state irrigation minister Nanje Gowda backs Karnataka. "Currently, the state has just 26 tmc of water. For drinking requirements alone, 28 tmc is needed. So the state government is justified in adopting such a stance," he asserts.

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