Karnataka on Wednesday turned down Tamil Nadu's request for release of Cauvery river water to its Mettur Dam "in the present circumstances" but said the excess inflow would anyway flow there in normal course.
The state made it clear that there was no question of releasing Cauvery water voluntarily to Tamil Nadu at this stage. The decision was taken at an all-party meeting convened by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa to discuss the issue after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi wrote to the state government making the request. "...in the present circumstances, it is (Tamil Nadu's request) not possible to consider the request," Karnataka's Water Resources Minister Basavaraja Bommai told reporters.
The meeting discussed the water requirements of farmers of the Cauvery basin, the usage pattern in the past several years as well as drinking water needs of urban and rural areas dependent on its supply till June next year.
"In today's factual circumstances, it is not possible to release water to Tamil Nadu," he said. But Bommai also said Wayanad and Kodagu received abundant rains today and inflow into the Krishnarajasagara dam had increased by 17,000 cusecs with water storage reaching a height of 124.7 feet and it is expected to overflow tonight.
So, in such a scenario, keeping in view of the safety of the dam, water would be released and this "additional water" would flow (to Tamil Nadu) in the normal course. He said if Tamil Nadu once again exerts pressure to release water, Karnataka would convene another all-party meeting and take appropriate decision.
In stark contrast to the verbal duels that marked the political scene in Karnataka in recent days, today's meeting saw bonhomie between the government camp and the opposition. "On the issue of water, there is no politics," Leader of Opposition in Assembly Siddaramaiah (Congress) said.
"We can't keep water if it goes beyond 124.8 feet. Then it naturally flows out," he said. JDS leader H D Revanna stressed the need for protecting the crops of farmers.
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister S Suresh Kumar, Higher Education Minister V S Acharya, JDS' M C Nanaiah and Congress' Motamma were present at the meeting.
Karnataka is required to release 205 TMC of water annually to Tamil Nadu as per the interim award of inter-state water dispute tribunal. Cauvery water is main irrigation source of farmers of delta districts in Tamil Nadu.