Cauvery issue: Deve Gowda urges PM Modi to intervene and set up an agency
He also stressed the need to have an appropriate distress formula applicable to all the states concerned, in such distress conditions.
Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda on Monday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Jal Shakti Ministry to appoint an external agency, independent of the states that are party to the dispute and the union government, to conduct studies of all reservoirs in the Cauvery basin.
He also stressed the need to have an appropriate distress formula applicable to all the states concerned, in such distress conditions. Noting that due to the failure of the Southwest monsoon (from June to September) this year, there is insufficient storage in the identified/designated four reservoirs of Cauvery basin in Karnataka, he said the state is facing such a grave situation that it is finding it extremely difficult even to cater to the drinking water requirements, let alone for irrigation.
The Janata Dal (S) supremo released a copy of the September 23 letter that he wrote to the Prime Minister on issues of "resolving the ongoing disputes and differences between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the matter of releasing Cauvery waters from Karnataka reservoirs to Tamil Nadu", at a press conference here.
Deve Gowda said that the combined storage available as on September 23 in all four reservoirs of Cauvery basin in Karnataka is only 51.10 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) whereas the requirement for standing crops and for drinking water is of 112 TMC. “The attitude of Tamil Nadu in pressing for additional releases far in excess of 40 TMC already released so far in not only unjust but also against all principles of equity and natural justice, considering the fact that providing drinking water is a fundamental right under the Constitution and it gets the highest priority in the National Water Policy,” Gowda wrote in the letter. Gowda's suggestion is: “To appoint an external agency, independent of the party states and the union government, which has expertise in the field of Integrated Reservoir Operation Studies, for conducting the studies of all the identified/designated reservoirs in Cauvery Basin, immediately".
The agency should place the report of the studies before the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee (CWRC) and Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) for consideration in consultation with the party states, he said. The agency should be vested with the responsibility of deriving a suitable distress formula taking into consideration all factors like the deficiency in the rainfall, inflows, reservoir levels, storage positions, crop and drinking water requirements, the different monsoons in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, actual utilisation under various categories, and mandatory discharges to be made by Karnataka to Tamil Nadu, he added. He suggested setting up a five-member committee of experts, who should not be connected to the party states and the union government.
The committee should also visit the reservoirs of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to take stock of the prevailing ground realities. The committee should report “not only to the CWMA for taking appropriate action but also to the Supreme Court, as a measure of immediate relief”, Gowda wrote. He said the CWMA and the CWRC should make periodical visits to all the identified/designated reservoirs in Cauvery basin, preferably once in 15 days to assess the ground realities, instead of relying only on the records placed before them. The former PM pointed out that the rainfall received in Karnataka this year in the months of August and September has been the lowest in the last 123 years. “It is a curse that Karnataka happens to be the upper riparian state in Cauvery basin and is always obliged to fulfill the demands of the downstream state,” Gowda said.