MYSURU: Farmers in the Cauvery basin, who are already hit due to the closure of sugar factories, crash in prices of farm produce and delay in the release of water to save semi-arid crops, have now been dealt another blow.
The Cauvery Water Management Authority has directed the state to release 40.34 tmcft of water to Tamil Nadu in June and July. Maintaining that the directive is based on the monthly quota finalised by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in its final verdict, the Authority has asked Karnataka to release 9.19 tmcft of water for June and 31.37 tmcft for July.
This comes at a time when the availability of water in all the four Cauvery basin reservoirs combined — KRS, Harangi, Kabini and Hemavathi — is less than 32 tmcft. Any discharge from these will affect the drinking water needs of Bengaluru, Mysuru and other towns and standing crops if there are no timely showers in the catchment area. Opposing the order as unrealistic, farmer leaders said the monsoon is yet to set in fully in Kodagu and also Wayanad in neighbouring Kerala.
Issue will be discussed with CM, says minister
Mandya District in-charge Minister Narayana Gowda said the Authority’s directive has caused apprehension among the farming community. The issue will be discussed with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, as any move to release water will badly affect farmers, he said. “We are not against implementing the Authority’s decision if there is heavy rain in the catchment areas. But in this time of distress, we will have to review release of water,” he added.
Though Baghamandala in Kodagu, the birthplace of river Cauvery, received 36 inches of rain, as against the normal of 20 inches, between January and May this year, the showers were uneven across the catchment areas and in Mysuru and Mandya districts, sources in the Met department said. However, over the last few weeks, Tamil Nadu has received about 2 tmcft of runoff water after rains in the basin areas and lower streams in Mysuru, Bengaluru and Mandya region, the sources pointed out.
Karnataka Sugarcane Gowers’ Association president Kurbur Shantha Kumar said Karnataka’s officials should have made a proper presentation regarding the ground situation. “How can the state give 40 tmcft of water when it has less than 32 tmcft in its Cauvery basin reservoirs?” he asked. “This will only add to confusion and create tensions between the riparian states. The Karnataka Government should make its stand clear,” he stressed.
KRRS leader Nanjunde Gowda said that releasing water in the pre-monsoon period is suicidal and observed that no government in the past has done so. “Water release should be based on the inflow and reservoir levels, and not on a monthly basis as decided by the tribunal. What will Karnataka do with the surplus water once the reservoirs are full?” he remarked.
Farmers’ leaders blamed the state officials for failing to apprise the authorities regarding the ground situation, the current water level, inflows and the plight of farmers. Some even argued that there is no urgency to meet the demand as the Mettur reservoir has 66.53 ft of water as against maximum storage of 93 ft, which is enough to meet the needs of TN farmers. The farmer’s organisations have also decided to prevail upon the State Government to take up the issue with the Cauvery Water Management Authority.