BENGALURU: Karnataka Water Resources Minister M B Patil admitted that the state is releasing about 4,000 cusecs of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu on a daily basis as on Thursday. He defended the gesture as inevitable considering the long-term interest of the state which is locked in a legal battle with Tamil Nadu over the sharing of Cauvery water.
Expressing concern over the deficit rainfall in the first month(June) of the monsoon season, Patil said the inflow and storage in the four reservoirs in the Cauvery basin -- KRS, Kabini, Harangi and Hemavathi -- is meagre.
"The cumulative live storage in the four reservoirs is 11 tmcft. The cumulative inflow as on Tuesday was 12,700 cusecs, of which about 4,000 cusecs is being released to Tamil Nadu," Patil said.
The minister defended the release of water to Tamil Nadu amid protests by farmers in Mandya and Mysuru districts. "Though the storage and inflow of water are low, we are forced to release some water to Tamil Nadu in accordance with the award of the Cauvery Tribunal, keeping the long-term interests of the state in mind as the legal battle over the dispute is still on in the Supreme Court," he explained.
According to the tribunal award, Karnataka has to release 134 tmcft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu in the June-September period. A minor fault could cause major damage to the state's interests in the legal battle. So the state had to tread cautiously, Patil said.
The available water in the reservoirs is being used to meet the drinking water needs of Bengaluru and other towns. Release of water for agriculture purpose could be considered only after a big rise in the storage position, he added.
Ready to convince TN on Mekedatu: Patil
To a question on the implementation of the Mekedatu drinking water and hydro power project, Patil said Tamil Nadu is opposing the project but expressed confidence about convincing the neighbouring state.
He said Karnataka is keen to hold talks with Tamil Nadu at the chief minister's level or at the water resources minister's level to clear apprehensions about the project.
The Mekedatu reservoir will serve only as a balancing reservoir with a capacity to store 67 tmcft of water to meet the future drinking water needs of Bengaluru and other towns. It will have a provision to generate 400MW of hydropower without drawing a single drop of water from Tamil Nadu's share of water, Patil said.
Karnataka recently submitted the detailed project report to the Central Water Commission seeking its clearance for the project, while Tamil Nadu urged the Centre to restrain Karnataka from going ahead with the project.