NEW DELHI: Against the backdrop of agitation in parts of Karnataka over Mahadayi river water issue, an all-party delegation from the state led by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek his intervention on the dispute with Goa and Maharashtra.
The delegation wanted a settlement bypassing a tribunal, before which the dispute is pending, but got no concrete assurance from the Prime Minister, according to Siddaramaiah.
He said the delegation explained to Modi the situation in Karnataka regarding protests over Mahadayi river water issue.
"The Prime Minister has not given any specific promise. But, still we hope that he would convene the meeting of the Chief Ministers of concerned states and he will try to resolve the issue," he told reporters.
A PMO statement said Modi suggested that a consensus in this regard would be necessary among various political parties in all the three states, before an attempt can be made to resolve the matter through mutual consultations, out of the tribunal.
The meeting comes against the backdrop of agitation being witnessed in several parts in north Karnataka including Hubli and Dharwad over the dispute.
Siddaramaiah recalled an instance in the past when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi persuaded the Chief Ministers of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharasthra to spare five TMC of water each from allocated share in Krishna waters for the benefit of Tamil Nadu for meeting its drinking water supply to Chennai.
To another question on Mekedatu dam project across river Cauvery, which is being opposed by neighbouring Tamil Nadu, Siddaramaiah said Karnataka would "go-ahead" with the construction of the project.
"There is no problem as far as Mekedatu is concerned. We will go ahead with Mekadatu dam construction," the Karnataka Chief Minister said.
Karnataka government also requested the Prime Minister to allocate over Rs. 3,000 crore under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), in the light 126 Taluks in the state having been declared as drought affected.
In a memorandum submitted to Modi, the Chief Minister has also sought Centre to release Rs. 3050.72 crores under SDRF and an additional 1500 MW of power be allocated from the Central Generating Stations to Karnataka.
"Karnataka is witnessing severe drought for the fifth consecutive year... In 126 taluks, which are declared drought affected 22.34 lakh hectares is affected with crop damage of 33 per cent and above," the memorandum added.
Responding to this, the Prime Minister said a central team is being sent to the state, at the earliest, to assess the situation, the statement said.
The Karnataka delegation also drew the Prime Minister's attention to falling sugar prices and sought a comprehensive policy towards stabilisation of sugar prices to protect the interest of sugarcane farmers.
To this, Modi said these problems were being faced by sugarcane farmers across the country and the Union government is a taking a number of steps to address them, the PMO statement said.
Highlighting the plight of grape and pomegranate growers, Siddaramaiah said the Centre should come forward for waiving principal amount along with all types of interest for the crisis period to Rs. 1357.57 crore.
Pointing out that the customs duty reduction on the raw silk has severely impacted the silk in Karnataka, he sought reconsideration of restoring the customs duty to original level of 30 per cent.
The Prime Minister said it would be examined.
On the other hand, the Chief Minister urged refunding of Rs. 440.20 crores, which was collected from the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) by the income tax authorities.
VTU is a State University, which was created by an act of the State Legislature.