TN’s share from Cauvery should be reduced by 50 tmcft: Karnataka minister MB Patil
Karnataka’s irrigation minister MB Patil says a minimum of 50-60 tmcft has to be reduced from the 192 tmcft of Cauvery water the state is expected to release to Tamil Nadu.india Updated: Feb 16, 2018 08:22 IST
With the Supreme Court set to deliver the Cauvery verdict on Friday, Karnataka’s irrigation minister MB Patil in an interview to Vikram Gopal argues that the Cauvery tribunal’s award was based on pre-Independence agreements that should have ceased to exist after the country got freedom. Edited excerpts:
What are your hopes from the Supreme Court verdict over the Cauvery water sharing dispute?
We have argued on four major planks. One, we have challenged the validity of the pre-Independence agreements of 1892 and 1924 as those were between the Mysore Maharaja and the British government. These should cease to be valid after we got freedom.
Second, the Cauvery tribunal’s award did not look at the latest requirement of Karnataka, which has increased since Independence and the requirements of both states are more or less equal now.
Third, drinking water is a priority, but the tribunal did not give water for two-thirds of Bengaluru, which needs about 20 tmcft (thousand million cubic feet). We have had to cut down our irrigation requirements to supply water to Bengaluru.
Fourth, the monthly schedules awarded by the tribunal should go. According to the schedules we have to give specified quantities of water for different months. This is not based on ground reality. Then there is our cropping requirement. Additionally, some projects on the river have been denied water, but Tamil Nadu has been allocated water for some unknown projects, which I don’t understand.
Fifth, there is no distress formula based on the reality of inflows in the tribunal award, the lack of which is the cause for the frequent fights between the states.
Most importantly, the tribunal assessed that Tamil Nadu had groundwater availability of 200 tmc, and it concluded that at least 20-30 tmc could be used. So, that has to be deducted from its quota.
In conclusion, a minimum of 50-60 tmcft has to be reduced from the 192 tmcft we have to release to Tamil Nadu. And, as the tribunal award was based on pre-Independence agreements, it has to be set aside.
Recently, Tamil Nadu accused Karnataka of refusing to release water…
It is no longer the duration of water release, as that extends only from June to December and they can only get environmental flows. Asking for water now is a political tactic. They are our neighbouring state and we want a cordial relationship. But we have to provide water for our standing crops and for drinking till June end. Besides, we are short by about 6 tmcft.
The tribunal has said it does not have any objections to an out-of-court settlement. Will you seek this?
The Karnataka chief minister has tried sincerely to convene a meeting with the chief ministers of Goa and Maharashtra. There should be an attitude of live and let live and Goa should share some water because the Mahadayi originates there. We produce around 45 tmc, out of which we are seeking 17-18 tmcft. I think better sense should prevail in Goa as it is a neighbouring state and we have a cordial relationship.
What about allegations by Yeddyurappa that the Congress has failed to bring its Goa leaders on board?
In a constitutional system, protocol calls for an elected chief minister to write to his counterpart. Does Parrikar writing a letter to a party leader imply that he has been brought on board? On the same day, the Goa irrigation minister called it a political stunt. Had they been genuine they should have written to the Karnataka chief minister and followed it up with a meeting.
After the letter, a Goan minister comes here without informing us and insults the people of Karnataka, and they start making false allegations that we have diverted water. So, the credit for the mess created on the Mahadayi issue goes to Yeddyurappa.
What measures have you taken over the past four years to address issues of water usage, considering the disputes the state has with its neighbours?
We are the pioneers of the tank filling project, because of which 114 assembly segments will become drought-free. We also took up micro-irrigation very seriously. At Ramthal in Bagalkot district, the world’s largest micro-irrigation integrated plant has been set up. I request the central government to take up half the cost on such projects because micro irrigation is the way ahead.
First Published: Feb 16, 2018 08:22 IST