Monsoon 2023: Tempers high in Karnataka’s Mandya as state releases Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu

Local farmers protest decision; poor monsoon in the state has already diminished river water levels  

By M Raghuram
Published: Friday 01 September 2023

Farmers in Mandya, Karnataka, protesting the release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu. Photo: M RaghuramFarmers in Mandya, Karnataka, protesting the release of Cauvery waters to Tamil Nadu.

Farmers in Karnataka’s Mandya district have expressed deep discontent at the state government complying with directives of the Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) to release Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu. The decision, which mandates the release of 5,000 cusecs of Cauvery water for a 15-day period, has sparked fierce opposition from the local farming community.

The farmers’ grievances materialised in a determined and vocal protest near the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) dam in the town of Srirangapatna on September 1, 2023, where they vehemently opposed the government’s decision and demanded an immediate halt to the water release.

The situation has aggravated following the monsoon playing truant. As a result of poor monsoons in the state, the inflow into the KRS dam has come down to 5,250 cusecs per day against 11,600 cusecs per day at the same time last year and averaging 11,000-12,000 cusecs per day in the last five years.

The outflow now is 12,000 cusecs per day towards Tamil Nadu as recorded at the gauge at Biligondlu on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border on August 31.

On August 29, the CWMA reaffirmed the ruling of the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC), compelling Karnataka to release 5,000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu for the specified fortnight.

In response to this directive, the Karnataka government initiated the water release to its neighbouring state on the same day.

Local farmers organised protests in Mandya and near the KRS dam in a show of defiance against the government’s actions. They marched from the banks of the Cauvery in Srirangapatna to the taluk office and raised slogans.

The protest saw the participation of several Congress workers who joined forces to denounce the water release and demand an immediate halt from the KRS dam.

Nalin Kr Kateel, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president, also criticised the state administration for seemingly neglecting the concerns of the farming community.

He said, “Our farmers are deprived of water while Tamil Nadu is being supplied. This unequal allocation is a blow to our agricultural community. In the face of alarming rainfall deficits leading to drought-like conditions, the government has also failed to provide electricity to irrigation pump sets. In response, the BJP plans to protest against these governmental lapses.”

A group of farmers launched a nighttime protest to denounce the CWRC’s directive, directing their anger towards officials tasked with implementing the order. They remained steadfast in their demand despite officials’ attempts to pacify the situation.

Meanwhile, following the CWRC’s injunction, officials have initiated the discharge of water from the KRS dam in Srirangapatna. Some 4,448 cusecs were released on August 29 and 7,279 cusecs on August 30.

As of August 30, the water level at the KRS dam had receded to a critical level of 100 feet, against a total storage capacity of 124.80 feet.

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