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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cauvery dispute: Contempt plea filed in SC against Karnataka

Sad, the river water dispute of Cauvery has taken ugly turns…   All Indians and respected brethren should understand that the crisis erupts when there is shortage. In fact, it is the time when statesmanship and reason should prevail over petty politics and provincial pride. When the resources are limited, one should learn how to share with compassion and equanimity.

Sad the reactions have been emotional – Karnataka boiled with protests, challenging the Supreme Court itself as also the PM and every Constitutional authority.  The elected representatives of Tamil Nadu have not reacted at all – all pursuing their individual exploits – there was no ‘all party meeting’ or unified action representing the interests of Tamilnadu.   SM Krishna though away on a foreign tour, despite holding the important portfolio of External Affairs in the Central Govt. still chose to write publicly to the PM Manmohan singh seeking to stop further release of water.  How partisan !!

Earlier, the meeting of the Cauvery River Authority [CRA], chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and attended by the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, failed to resolve the water sharing row between the states with both refusing to accept the PM’s final ruling.  The meeting had been convened on the direction of Apex Court after a decade with TN CM Jayalalithaa demanding that the PM direct Karnataka to release 2 TMC ft of water daily to Tamil Nadu for the next 24 days. Later TN scaled down its demand to 1 TMC ft of water daily for the next 30 days, which was also turned down.

With no consensus after two hours of discussion, the PM ruled that Karnataka release 9,000 cusecs of water daily for 25 days from September 20 to October 15.  Karnataka CM Jagdish Shettar staged a walkout in protest, his Tamil Nadu counterpart J Jayalalithaa announced the state would approach the Supreme Court.   TN is pleading for water to save crops in 15 lakh acres of land; Karnataka speaks of “extreme distress conditions” and “drought” prevailing in all the 49 taluks of the Cauvery basin in Karnataka.

On 8th Oct, Karnataka unilaterally decided to stop the water.  The Executive Engineer of Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) dam  was quoted as stating that  release of Cauvery river waters from the reservoir was stopped following the government order.  Earlier, that day, hearing Karnataka’s special review petition seeking stay on release of water, on Monday, the division bench comprising Justice D K Jain and Justice Madan B Lokur said: “Our order of September 28 shall not in anyway be an impediment in the way of chairman of CRA to take decision on review application by the Karnataka government.”

Karnataka state also witnessed a statewide bandh on October 6 to protest against the release of water to Tamil Nadu. The protests continued Monday in Bangalore, Mandya and Mysore.

Today [10th Oct 12], Tamil Nadu government  moved the Supreme Court seeking launch of contempt of court proceeding against Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar and others for allegedly defying the court’s order to supply 9,000 cusecs of water from the Cauvery river to the state.  In its application filed, Tamil Nadu contends that Karnataka has deliberately violated the apex court’s September 28 directive to supply water to the state and hence has committed willful contempt of the court.

Karnataka is in a total quandary – mess brought upon thyself by its own politicians and local leaders.  As a fall out of the walk out, the PM has denied appointment to the Karnataka CM  Jagadish Shettar who inturn  criticised Manmohan Singh for the September 19 order of Cauvery River Authority.  

Now legal experts suggest that the CM should not have walked out of the Cauvery River Authority (CRA) meeting stating that the walk-out has done more harm to the State.  The Chief Minister, who returned to the State after the Prime Minister refused to meet him, confirmed to reporters, in response to questions, that an appointment was not given, and the petition was filed at the Prime Minister’s Office.  According to Karnataka, the CRA order has no basis at all and is an injustice to the State. 

Karnataka had taken the position that an expert committee should be sent to the state first to assess the ground realities before any decision but that appeal was not considered- but before any such action, the State is faced with the contempt flea. 

More than bothering about what would happen to that, the people of Tamil Nadu are interested in getting their quota of water which only can save the crops and the farmers of the delta.

Certainly not a happy state of affairs for both the States and the Nation.

With grief
S. Sampathkumar
10th Oct 2012.

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