Protests erupted in Karnataka on Friday following the release of Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu late Thursday and a crucial meeting was on in New Delhi to decide the quantum of water needed by the two states for the remaining part of this month.
Karnataka released the water to avoid
contempt of court as the Supreme Court had directed the state on Wednesday to give Tamil Nadu daily 10,000 cusecs of Cauvery water till Sunday.
On the court's direction, the Cauvery Monitoring Committee (CMC) met in the national capital to work out the water needs of the two states in view of vast divergence in their claims.
The apex court had also directed the CMC, comprising union water resources secretary and chief secretaries of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, to submit a report to it Monday on its decision. Hence, the CMC decision is crucial for both the states.
Karnataka chief minister Jagadish Shettar, who flew to New Delhi on Friday morning to plead the state's case with the central government, met union water resources minister Harish Rawat and briefed him on the difficulty the state would face if more water is released to Tamil Nadu.
"We explained to the minister the serious drought situation, lack of water in our reservoirs and our requirement," Shettar told reporters after the meeting.
The water issue release disrupted Karnataka assembly proceedings as the opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular members staged a 'dharna' (protest) against release of water by the Bharatiya Janata Party government.
The protest forced speaker K.G. Bopaiah to briefly adjourn the house. However, with the two parties resuming 'dharna' after the house re-assembled, Bopaiah adjourned it for the day.
The two parties have been demanding that the state should not release water and the government should be ready to face contempt of court to protect the interests of farmers in the Cauvery belt area of the state.
The Cauvery belt in the state witnessed protests by farmers and Kannada activists for the second day Friday.
Farmers' organizations have called for a shut-down of Mandya, about 80 km from Bangalore and a hotbed of agitation, if Cauvery water is to be released to Tamil Nadu while Karnataka faces drought.
Heavy security has been arranged at Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) reservoir in Mandya district from where Cauvery water is being released to Tamil Nadu.
Vehicular movement between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has been stopped on the border of Chamarajanagar district in Karnataka, police said. Chamarajanagar is about 200 km from Bangalore.
Karnataka has been pleading with the court as well as the central and Tamil Nadu governments that it is not in a position to spare water in view of the severe drought in the state this year.
However, Tamil Nadu is also making a strong case for water to save paddy crops in its Cauvery belt.
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